JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Master Sgt. Roslyn Ball, 319th Training Squadron, credits the mentorship and bonds she’s shared with her fellow Military Training Instructors in receiving the 2020 MTI of the Year award.
“The camaraderie of working with such a diverse group of NCOs and seniors NCOs is very rewarding. I’ve pushed flights and built bonds with people from a lot of different AFSCs that I may not have interacted with in my previous career field,” Ball said. “These people have mentored me and pushed me far beyond what I thought I was capable of and I’m very appreciative.”
The Columbus, Georgia, native joined the Air Force in January 2003 as an Education and Training Management Specialist. She felt she wasn’t ready for college but she also wanted to be completely independent and make her family proud.
“My family has a military background and I thought about joining every branch before my oldest brother convinced me to join the Air Force,” Ball said. “He was in a different branch of the military and bluntly told me that branch wasn’t for me and that I needed to join the Air Force because they had the best quality of life. To this day I am so thankful for that piece of advice from him.”
Two events stand out in her mind from her BMT experience.
“I remember when the DFAC had this glass case full of desserts right by the ‘snake pit’ that no trainee ever dared to touch,” she said. “In the later weeks of training I got a 341 pulled for not giving a reporting statement. That same evening, my MTI told the flight that anyone who didn’t get a 341 pulled that week could get cake out of the dessert carousel. I was so mad at myself for not giving that reporting statement.”
More importantly, she remembers the looks on her mom’s and grandfather’s faces when she graduated from BMT.
“I could tell how proud they were of me without them saying it,” she said.
The thought of becoming an MTI first crossed her mind when the Developmental Special Duty listing came out at her last base. She was told to rank the duties that had openings, and she marked MTI as her last choice.
“I honestly came to BMT kicking and screaming. This is not something I wanted to do and it showed, at first,” Ball admitted. “I wasn’t very motivated in MTI school or during the training qualification process, but I always had my family in the background cheering me on.”
Ball said she struggled with being an MTI because it was something that didn’t come easy for her.
“It wasn’t until I arrived at my assigned line squadron to a section full of amazing instructors that I found who I was as an instructor and I started to actually love what I did. They gave me the tools I needed to be successful and they held me accountable when I didn’t meet the mark. I feel like that is where I was meant to be at that time. They all knew my story and they still took me under their wing and showed me what the true definition of an MTI was. They made the job fun. Having good coworkers and leadership can make or break an assignment and they all assisted in making this assignment my most memorable,” she said.
“I’m not surprised Master Sgt. Ball was selected MTI of the year because I’ve seen the caliber of her work firsthand. I’m very proud of her achievements, and I know she is leading by example,” said Lt. Col. Eve McCloud, 319th TRS commander.
Ball said that being a part of the transformation trainees make from civilian to Airman has to be the most rewarding aspect of being an MTI because she has contributed to the beginning of their Air Force story.
“There have been numerous times where a trainee has come in and had a very rough beginning but by the end of BMT they were the sharpest Airmen in the flight,” Ball said. “There are times when you can see the moment a trainee realizes what it means to be an Airman and they step up to meet the expectations levied upon them. Seeing how proud the trainees were of themselves on graduation day and then hearing how proud their families and friends were during open house after graduation made me feel like what I did mattered. It made me remember the day I graduated and how proud my family was of me.”
While she’s not sure of the number of Airmen whose lives she’s impacted, Ball said “there’s been so many trainees that I’ve interacted with and hopefully set up for success in their Air Force careers.”
“Our MTIs are the backbone of Basic Military Training,” said Col. Michael Newsom, commander, 737th Training Group. “Every year, thousands of civilians enter through our gates. Nearly eight weeks later, they leave as proud Airmen. It’s all made possible because of the efforts of outstanding MTIs such as Master Sgt. Ball. Being selected for this award speaks volumes of her accomplishments and it is no surprise that she was selected for this honor.”