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Staff Sgt. Robert George, a military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, marches his unit following the issuance of uniforms and gear. Recruits are molded into warrior Airmen through a recently expanded Air Force Basic Military Training program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)
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Military training instructors transform recruits into Airmen

Posted 6/1/2009   Updated 9/28/2009 Email story   Print story


by Michael Tolzmann
Defense Media Activity - San Antonio

6/1/2009 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Rising at 3 a.m. is a small sacrifice for military training instructors. The future of the Air Force awaits.

With uniforms in perfect order, they pull the immediately identifiable campaign hats low and straight, down their foreheads to nearly the eyebrows. With stern voices and stoic physical presences, they direct raw recruits who scramble into a unit formation. It's the start of another day during an eight-and-a-half week indoctrination in becoming warrior Airmen. Many soon will serve overseas or in a war zone.

A few hundred military training instructors, or MTIs, serve here including four men from El Paso, Texas. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ricardo A. Chavez, Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Gordon, Staff Sgt. Eddie L. Herrera Jr. and Staff Sgt. Raul Lopez Jr., are assigned to the 737th Training Group.

Each MTI is the face and example of the Air Force for hundreds of basic trainees throughout the year with 35,000 new recruits graduating annually at the Air Force's only enlisted basic training facility. They mold recruits through a recently overhauled and expanded to eight-and-a-half week Air Force Basic Military Training program with a curriculum today that focuses on a 'warrior first' philosophy. Seven days a week they facilitate basic war skills, military bearing, discipline, physical fitness, drill and ceremonies, Air Force core values and subjects relating to Air Force life.

The duties and responsibilities for training recruits are extensive.

"Our job is to take young men and women and mold them into future Air Force military members," said Sergeant Herrera. We give them the principles and basics to lead and maintain a proper military life."

A job recognized within military ranks as 'downright tough,' MTIs are dedicated in giving recruits what they need to become successful Air Force warriors.

"Our mission is tough due to different personalities and backgrounds found in the young men and women," said Sergeant Lopez. "They challenge us each day. We are the first examples of military professionals to these young folks. Our jobs require total dedication to ensure they get the best training."

They often work 14 to 18 hour a days, seven-days a week. The Air Force is actively recruiting additional MTIs to fill their vacancies and ultimately reduce workloads. And although they work long hours, the men and women serving as MTIs hold an extreme sense of pride in knowing they are taking young people off the streets and molding them into Airmen.

"It's an indescribable feeling I get working with these young Americans, which allows me to return each and every day," said Sergeant Chavez.

"It's by far the greatest feeling in the world to see someone transformed from a civilian off the street into an Airmen who is fit to serve anywhere around the world in our Air Force," said Sergeant Gordon.

These MTIs hold broad Air Force backgrounds, making them model mentors for recruits.

Sergeant Chavez has served in the Air Force for eight years and previously was a security forces instructor. Sergeant Gordon previously served as a crew chief on a C-141 Starlifter and a B-1B Lancer. He has been in the Air Force 14 years. Sergeant Herrera was a helicopter engine maintainer before becoming an MTI. He has served eight years. He plans to stay in the Air Force and hopes to achieve the top enlisted rank of chief master sergeant. Sergeant Lopez worked in the fuels career field before becoming an MTI. He has served for nearly 12 years and deployed to Southwest Asia in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Without their yelling, long days, warrior training or marching step by step with recruits, the Air Force could fall short of meeting its future missions. But tomorrow these MTIs again will rise early, ensuring the recruits learn the tools they may need to survive.

5/26/2011 12:21:32 AM ET
I am so excited that my son Michael is part of this life changing experience. Moreover I am proud of the dedication the USAF provides these young men and woman through the tough training that will make them support and defend this beautiful Nation. As our son transforms from everyday civilian to an experienced Airman you can't begin to understand how proud we are of his choice to join and his commitment to succeed. Maybe at BMT he can't see the future right now but I know one day soon he will start to see how dedication purseverance endurance and honesty will shape his life and character. Thanks to all the MTI'S and the USAF as a whole. May God Bless you and this Country
Robert Linder, Birmingham Al
1/31/2011 12:56:14 PM ET
Thank you MTI's for your dedication to molding and shaping our trainee's into fine young men and women who are Warrior Worthy Know that you are appreciated for all that you do.
Jan Moore, Toledo Ohio
1/15/2011 11:53:59 PM ET
Thank you so much for all you do. We are proud to have our future airmen train under your guidance. We look forward to attending his graduation the end of February and would be proud to shake the hands of the men and women who train him.
Kimberly Richardson, US
11/3/2010 9:37:10 PM ET
I have a son going through basic training. He will graduate Dec 19th. I truly believe he will learn and grow to be a dedicated Airman and man. I've been a civilian employee in the Air Force for 31 years and take pride in what I do and what I contribute in support of our warfighters. I know my son will do so as well. May God bless all of our young men and women serving in today's military. Hooowah
Debbie Tapparo, Oklahoma City
5/20/2010 3:29:32 PM ET
Thank you MTI's for your dedication long hours and extreme contribution to the United States Air Force. We all benefit from the quality Airmen you send to the Operational Air Force.
Mark Accomazzo, clt
5/10/2010 2:50:13 PM ET
my grandson is now in basic trainingi have heard news from his mother that he sounds great and very proud of his choice of military....we are all pround of him.......he is the first of our grandchildren to serve our country and we couln't be prouder i was not on the list to get a pass i would be so elated to see him graduate i have no crimal record i still drive and work his name is jason lewis hawkins unit 369545 dorn a-5 you have a awsome young man in your midst he will go far.....thank you for shaoing this young man into what our country needs........sincerely donna m. soria a very proud grandma
donna m. soria, mercedca.95340
2/24/2010 10:29:22 AM ET
My son starts basic training Monday. I'm extremely proud of my son and I'm sure that he will make a great airman...someone our country can be proud of as well. God bless the Air Force
Tico, Atlanta
1/24/2010 9:49:55 PM ET
I am a grandmother of one of your newest recruits coming there on January 12th. He is a good kid he just needs some direction in his life and some responsibility. I am praying for that to happen - that he will find out what real life is all about. Thank you for guiding him into making him a responsible human being that is proud of his country and mostly of himselfBlessings your wayHe doesn't have my last name.
Johnnie H. Melton, Carthage Tx.
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