Student Flight trains non-prior service enlistees
By Staff Sgt. Jill Jamgochian, 129th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 09, 2008
MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. -- The dew-blanketed grass and cool breeze provided little relief to the small Student Flight group as they work out the tiring flutter kicks under Tech. Sgt. Rachel Taylor's watchful gaze.
"Thirty seconds! Halfway there," Sergeant Taylor shouted to the group of young men performing physical training on the softball field at Moffett Federal Airfield Sept. 6.
Following jumping jacks, stretching, sit-ups and push-ups, Sergeant Taylor assembled the group of sweaty, but motivated trainees to begin running laps in pairs around the field.
Student Flight, a program for all non-prior service, is designed to help new, non-prior service enlistees become better prepared for basic training, making the transition from civilians into military troops easier, said Sergeant Taylor, the Student Flight Non-Commissioned Officer for the 129th Rescue Wing.
Sergeant Taylor and Capt. Tanya Lee, the Student Flight Officer, supervise the pre-basic training enlistees throughout drill weekends with physical fitness, drill and ceremony exercises, class lessons about military history, customs and courtesies, and rank structure.
"They're little sponges and they soak up everything we teach them," Sergeant Taylor said. "They'll be a huge asset to their shops."
Uniformly dressed in black t-shirts, the Student Flight trainees already participated in many wing events, including change of command ceremonies, and the wing's Family Day. In addition to classes and physical training, wing activities help the new people stay motivated about the military while waiting up to a year or more on securing basic training and school dates, Sergeant Taylor said.
"Student Flight always feels as if they're already part of wing command. Everyone's giving them positive feedback," she added. Especially the Security Forces Squadron.
"The cops loving seeing their Airmen out here," she said. Four out of six of the newly-enlisted will be joining the 129th Security Forces Squadron.
Airman First Class Jason Pak, the Student Flight's 20-year-old student leader, plans on attending basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, this November. The Fremont-based native has a brother in the Army Reserves and has always wanted to be in law enforcement. Airman Pak is slated to join the 129th SFS following graduation from SF school.
"I think it's great. Sgt. Taylor and Capt. Lee are preparing us mentally and physically before basic training. It's an intense workout," he said.
Student Flight is new program for the wing and stems from the previous past knowledge experience of its NCOs.
The program is still in its infancy stage, said Chief Master Sgt. Teresa Blanchard, the Mission Support Flight superintendant, who began a similar new enlistee program in 2005 while she was stationed at the 190th Air Refueling Wing in Kansas.
"There wasn't anything here at the 129th,"said Chief Blanchard. "I saw how the unit had benefitted in Kansas, and we wanted to have that in place here."
When Chief Blanchard made the move to the 129th Rescue Wing in 2007, she began collaborating with Sergeant Taylor, who had also managed a Student Flight program at her New York unit.
Chief Blanchard noted the program has the ability to produce leaders in basic training and technical school honor graduates. "This program is for all of our unit members who are going to be viable assets to the wing."
The program hopes to inform and train the troops coming into the wing, in turn improving their individual shops.
Student Flight is looking for knowledgeable volunteers from the wing to assist in grooming these future Airmen, and make the program even better with new ideas and extra hands.
"Student Flight is looking for individuals who are tech school qualified, motivated, and are interested in facilitating work and classes along with Captain Lee and Sergeant Taylor", Chief Blanchard said.
Volunteers can expect a fulfilling experience. The Student Flight supervisors are proud of the chance to mold new troops and give them a boost before basic training and tech school.
Sergeant Taylor added, "Sending troops to basic training with knowledge, and seeing them come back as Airmen, it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done in my career."