Joint Base Charleston, S.C. --
Having no expectations on what to expect from Basic Military Training was my biggest fear prior to joining the Air Force. I stayed up countless nights researching anything I could pertaining to BMT before making my decision to join. After thorough research and several sleepless nights contemplating, I decided to take the plunge and revisit my recruiter.
I was far from your ordinary 18 year old who decided to join the military straight out of high school. I was a 24 year old who had graduated from the College of Charleston in 2017 with a degree in Finance and had already started a career with ForbesBooks.
I had interest in joining in the past, so I had already taken the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and been cleared at Military Entrance Processing Station earlier in the year. With nothing else holding me back or stopping me from joining, I knew it was time to make the six year commitment.
Serving my country was always something that weighed heavy on my heart and I knew I had to do it. Regardless of my fears about basic training and military life, I walked into my recruiter’s office, filled out the final paperwork, raised my right hand and was sworn into the United States Air Force Reserve.
Shortly after I swore in, my recruiter reached out to me and let me know that I would be enrolled in a program called the Development & Training Flight that occurred during the monthly unit training assembly. The D&TF was supposed to be a program designed to help incoming Air Force Reserve Airmen adapt to military life and prepare for BMT as they waited to ship out.
I really didn’t think much about the training flight, nor did I think it was going to help me prepare for basic training and my future Air Force career.
I was quickly proven wrong after I received a call from Tech. Sgt. William Anderson, 315th Airlift Wing training flight program manager at Joint Base Charleston, saying that I would need to meet the other trainees in the program at a hotel near the base at 4:45 a.m. on Saturday to start my embarkation into the program. He told me to have a change of clothes ready for physical training and to be ready to work hard.
As a young professional, I was still very skeptical that I would be pushed at all, especially in a program that I thought was designed for a bunch of fresh high school graduates.
Shortly after all of the trainees met, Anderson walked through the hotel doors and firmly told everyone to form up outside.
I had no clue what was going on or what the expectations were, but everyone quickly rushed to form up in columns outside and I blindly followed. The first time we formed up, Anderson raised his voice and told us that we moved too slowly, so we had to go back inside and do it again and that this time we better not mess up. It was honestly a bit of a shock.
We then made our way to the base where we started a tough physical fitness regimen. No one had time to walk or take a break. Anderson made sure that everyone was pushing themselves to their furthest physical and mental limits. Like many of the trainees, I struggled with the physical fitness portion of the training. Anderson’s encouragement and not letting anyone quit, along with other trainees pushing each other, helped us all prepare for what physical fitness would be like at BMT (The training was actually easier at BMT). Anderson taught us what we thought were our physical limits were only mental capacitors we had unrightfully put on ourselves.
We then started classroom work where we learned basic rank structure, the Air Force Song, the Airman’s Creed and basic customs and courtesies while being a military member. At first, it all seemed super repetitive, boring, and sophomoric. I had no clue about any of the information I was learning in the program, but decided that I would memorize it like everyone else. We were told that the information would come in handy once we made it to basic training, which was really an understatement. Everything that we learned in the classroom became the cornerstone for daily life in BMT.
I could tell that Anderson really cared and wanted all of the trainees in the D&TF to not only graduate, but graduate as a top Airman and bring the success they would have at BMT back to Joint Base Charleston as Air Force Reservists.
The solid foundation laid out in the Development & Training Flight with the dedication, guidance, and hard work of Tech. Sgt. Anderson’s flight not only helped me prepare to face BMT, but it helped me excel by completing the 8.5 week program as a top graduate in my flight and as helping me to become a better Airman. I don’t think anything could have helped me prepare better for BMT or life in the Air Force than the D&TF.