146th prepares new Airmen for Basic Military Training
By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Carzis
/ Published March 06, 2010
Channel Islands Air National Guard Base,Calif. -- What do you remember most about making your decision to join the world's greatest Air Force? With every new year, hundreds of new hopefuls have answered our nation's call, wanting to serve our country as future leaders in our military. But first, new trainees must receive the necessary knowledge and tools for success before this is possible. They will head to Lackland, AFB in Texas to get such training. Nervous and unsure of what they will meet, like the many before them, the new trainees will learn to adjust to a stressful environment and overcome the obstacles that lay ahead of them in Basic Military Training.
Most of the new recruits here at the 146th Airlift Wing have never experienced anything remotely close to basic training. They now have an advantage that other trainees don't. Over the last few drills new recruits have been shaping up in numbers larger than ever before. These new recruits are getting the official "ice breaker" for the joy that is Basic Military Training. Marching, learning reporting statements, and basic knowledge of the Air Force is what many will take with them before they leave for Lackland, AFB. The program is called the 146th Student Flight, and there are three dedicated personnel here at our own 146th Airlift Wing committed to preparing new recruits as they embark on a journey like no other.
Second Lieutenant Kenneth Davis with the 146th State Military Reserve Security Forces is the driving energy behind the student flight. Every drill weekend you can find him working with our always growing student flight in front of the wing headquarters building. Alongside him is 1st Lieutenant Eric J. Van Der Heide and Sgt. Steve McQueen. Together they head the program giving the students the best tools they can use before their departure: familiarity and knowledge. The student flight is tasked with studying the AF-100 Airman's Manual to help prepare for the intense training they will receive at BMT. The intent is to allow new recruits to gain helpful training that will create a lower stress environment once they arrive. With this valuable insight, BMT will become a more enjoyable experience, and these trainees will take more from their time at Lackland, AFB.
The program has intentions of expanding throughout other guard bases here in California. Lt. Davis has surveyed returning Airmen to determine which courses in BMT were most difficult so he can include them into the student flight training here. "We don't recreate the stress environment, that's not what we're here to do," said Lt. Davis.
With a background of twenty years educating our youth in the Civil Air Patrol program, Lt. Davis is a well-trained instructor and knows how to demand structure from his students. His role as an instructor has made him a key figure and cemented him as the best person for the job. Within the first month of joining the student flight, the new trainees will undergo M-16 simulated rifle training on the Los Alamitos Engagement Skills Trainer (EST). This simulated firing range recreates the experience of shooting a real rifle as well as giving hands-on instruction on how to disassemble their rifle. Students will also engage actively in proper marching procedures and vital marching executions that they will use while at BMT. Additionally, students will learn the history of the Air Force and the 146th Airlift Wing. Recruiters and Supervisors agree, the program is producing great results in the Airmen returning back from training.
But even with all the great results of the student flight, the most important thing that Lt. Davis is concerned with is making sure each trainee leaves BMT with a certain understanding. "I want them to understand the commitment they're making, believe in the importance of that, and believe in the validity of that commitment so they really feel like they're doing something important," he said. "When you value what you're doing, the difficulties in basic training become bearable."