129th RQW captain shares student flight knowledge

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Capt. Bryan Williams, Student Flight coordinator for the 129th Rescue Wing, helped establish the new student flight training program for the 130th Airlift Wing in West Virginia.

The program was spearheaded by Staff Sgt. Paul D. Roach, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the 130th Force Support Squadron's student flight, and 1st Lt. Carl B. Benson, a pilot candidate and interim officer-in-charge.

Sergeant Roach said Lieutenant Benson researched the internet and found that the 129th RQW has a high rate of basic military training graduates as well as BMT honor graduates.

"Instead of reinventing the wheel, Sergeant Roach and I took the 129th RQW's program and tailored it to fit the 130th AW," Lieutenant Benson said.

The 129th RQW student flight program was modeled from the 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno and tailored to its own needs. Captain Williams' training schedule is a 4-month cycle with an annual rotation of unit briefings and activities designed to prepare recruits for BMT at Lackland AFB, Texas.

"It's a program that will help any guard unit who needs it; that's how the program is designed," said Captain Williams. "We prepare them so they can go to BMT and shine."

Captain Williams teaches the recruits to take the basic tasks of BMT and master them in a controlled environment at the unit. Both Lieutenant Benson and Captain Williams said that once they teach the recruits a skill, the recruits are required to use it.

The student flight program covers topics such as reporting procedures, drill and ceremony, physical training, the U.S. Air Force song, and the U.S. Air Force mission, vision and core values.

The program includes monthly unit briefings to foster a sense of esprit de corps and educate the recruits about the different shops on base, where they are located, what they do and how they fit into the scope of the wing, state and federal missions.

Sergeant Roach said, "If we can instill core values at this early stage, it will contribute internally to reinforcing esprit de corps when they get to their units and then eventually they'll step into our shoes and be leaders."

The recruits also get guidance in their personal lives with briefings from finance, legal, mental health, equal opportunity and family readiness.

"Not only are we getting the recruits ready for BMT and technical training school, we're also building better citizens for America by teaching them teamwork, financial basics, goal setting skills and physical conditioning," said Lieutenant Benson.

Captain Williams also created a program matrix that tracks the recruits' progress in physical fitness, BMT school dates and unit of assignment information. Lieutenant Benson is using a similar matrix.

The success of the 129th RQW's student flight Program is directly related to the support of the wing; the commander, vice commander, unit commanders, first sergeants, chiefs and it's many volunteers, said Captain Williams.

Members of the 129th student flight conduct a graduation ceremony every Unit Training Assembly in which each student flight member receives a certificate of completion before they leave for basic training.

"It gives them a sense of accomplishment, a sense of pride and lets them know we do care about them," Captain Williams said. "We want to assure each Student Flight member that we have prepared them adequately for their military career and that the members wing are here to support them."