HomeMediaArticle Display

176th ADS first sergeant earns statewide honors

176th ADS first sergeant earns national honors

Alaska Air National Guardsmen Lt. Col. Shane Wallace and Chief Master Sgt. Heather Pineiro, the commander and chief enlisted manager assigned to the 176th Air Defense Squadron stand beside 1st Sgt. Melissa Erhard, the Alaska Air National Guard's 2019 First Sergeant of the Year, Sept. 15, 2020, on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Erhard distinguished herself in 2019 through her ability to foster resiliency among her Airmen and her community. The red stars in the backdrop represent the number of Russian intercepts made by the unit through the years, whose mission is to defend the nation's Air Sovereignty in the region. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Seth LaCount/Released)


Alaska National Guard Airman, Master Sgt. Melissa Erhard, was awarded the 2019 First Sergeant of the Year award Sept. 15 for her accomplishments last year.

As an Anchorage resident and Arizona native, Erhard has been a first sergeant with the 176th Air Defense Squadron since October 2015.

Erhard is the only first sergeant in the unit of more than 150 personnel. Uniquely, she is one of only three full-time first sergeants in the entire Alaska Air National Guard.

“I consider Master Sgt. Erhard an indispensable asset for myself and the unit,” said Lt. Col. Shane Wallace, commander of the 176th ADS. “She adroitly navigates the spectrum from taking care of our people to ensuring good order and discipline, all in order for us to accomplish our core missions of Homeland Defense and Air Sovereignty for Alaska and the United States.”

Erhard has distinguished herself through her ability to foster resiliency among her Airmen and community. In 2019, she amassed more than 24-thousand dollars in donations and dispensed Thanksgiving meals to more than 500 families in need, on base and in the local community. She also helped raise more than 30-thousand dollars in emergency funds for JBER members in need through Operation Warm Heart, a first sergeant program that grants cash, gift cards and food vouchers to Airmen, Air Force civilians and contractors from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

“Master Sgt Erhard embodies the Air Force’s Core Values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do,” said Chief Master Sgt. Heather Pineiro, chief enlisted manager for the 176th ADS. “Her heartfelt compassion and steadfast dedication to the men and women in the 176th Wing is unmatched, both as a first sergeant and a senior noncommissioned officer. I am honored to work alongside her and trust in her guidance and support with enlisted personnel matters.”

To develop her own professional ambitions and to bolster unit readiness, Erhard attended 10 courses in 2019 that refined her team building and mentorship skills. She developed a first sergeant annual training course for 17 first sergeants and taught at base-wide seminars that focused on mentoring fellow noncommissioned officers.

“Master Sgt. Erhard is the dedicated first sergeant for the 176th ADS but she also supports all six squadrons in the Operations Group with more than 500 personnel,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brandon Grisham, 176th Operations Group Superintendent. “She has always been a sounding board for all squadron commanders and chiefs when they needed a listening ear.”

As a leader, Erhard places families at the forefront. She responded to three domestic disputes in 2019, and obtained shelter for displaced members of several families. When one of her Airmen’s spouse suddenly passed away, she mobilized support resources for the Airman to ease their grief.

“Master Sgt. Erhard aligns and strengthens the command team, setting the example for other senior non-commissioned officers as first sergeants to emulate,” remarked Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Wilson, State Command Chief for the AKANG.

Col. John Oberst, director of staff for the AKANG, and Wilson presented Erhard with a trophy and commander’s coin on behalf Brig. Gen. Scott Howard, commander of the AKANG, thanking her for her exemplary dedication and service to the people that perform the daily mission for the state of Alaska and the nation.

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.