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New program prepares recruits for Air Force Basic Military Training

Staff Sgt. Jason Overstreet, 507th Security Forces Squadron, inspects Christy Roberts in front of the Airman Leadership School during December’s unit training assembly.  Roberts is one of the first candidates to take part in a new Air Force Reserve Command initiative that prepares newly enlisted recruits for the transition between the civilian life and the air force life.  (Photo by Senior Airman Mark Hybers)

Staff Sgt. Jason Overstreet, 507th Security Forces Squadron, inspects Christy Roberts in front of the Airman Leadership School during December’s unit training assembly. Roberts is one of the first candidates to take part in a new Air Force Reserve Command initiative that prepares newly enlisted recruits for the transition between civilian life and air force life. (Photo by Senior Airman Mark Hybers)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Twenty two Air Force Reserve enlistees took part in the new Development and Training Flight (DTF) program here designed to ease civilians into Air Force life.

New recruits awaiting Basic Military Training (BMT) have the opportunity to take part in this program, the first of its kind for the 507th. It's designed to give newly enlisted Airmen the framework for success. 

The Tinker Air Force Base DTF program started as a conversation a few months ago. The Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) initiative, which has been in place for over a year has seen some success at other reserve wings, DTF facilitators said.

Master Sgt. Tom Lord, 507th Medical Squadron, was selected to facilitate the new program. He, along with Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Brown, 507th Command Chief, visited Travis Air Force Base to look at their program. Once Lord saw how it works and how it's designed, he was fully committed to getting it off the ground.

Work began on the DTF Oct. 1 with the December unit training assembly in mind as the start date.

"There was a lot of coordination and planning that went into this," Lord said. "There were so many people involved in the process. I could not have possibly done this without them."

The weekend for the recruits starts Friday night with a stay at the base. Saturday morning everyone met at the Airman Leadership School for roll call and then it's off to breakfast. Once the recruits are back at the classroom, the rest of the day is carried out very much like a day of boot camp.

Many guest speakers and facilitators were in and out throughout the day teaching a variety of topics and lending their own personal perspective to help the new recruits understand what lies ahead.

"It was nice to see different recruits getting different things out of this first weekend," said Lord.

The 507th Vice Commander, Col. Kevin Trayer spoke in the morning and explained to the new recruits just how important this program is for them and how great the opportunities are coming their way.
The recruits were then taken to the track for a morning of physical fitness.

Nathalie Hamilton, one of the recruits really enjoyed the fit to fight portion of the first weekend.

"I really like pushing myself physically," said Hamilton, a future KC-135 Stratotanker crew chief. "The physical fitness was definitely the most fun."

The recruits were able to get a good taste of drill and ceremonies led by 1st Sgt. Deborah Kidd of the 507th Medical Squadron. Kidd who was assisted by Staff Sgt. Christina Black and Staff Sgt. Jason Overstreet both of the 507th Security Forces Squadron.

Recruits were taken through a variety of facing movements and taught how to gather information.
"That was a lot harder than I thought it would be," said Hamilton.

Master Sgt. Lord was very complimentary of Kidd, Black and Overstreet, stating that this portion of the weekend was one of the most informative and productive for the new recruits. He said they were able to see real-life exercises that will be performed the first day they arrive at boot camp.

"I'm really glad I was able to see the mental side of this," said Tanner Daugherty, who leaves for BMT in early January.
"You understand the physical part of this, but no one can really tell you about the mental part of this. "

With these recruits leaving for BMT at random times, new recruits will join the older ones every month. Some of the expectation on the older recruits is they have the leadership to help out new arrivals, Lord said.

"It's important that each month when the new recruits show up, there is already a handful of their peers taking the leadership role to help them through that first weekend," Lord said.

With AFRC easing the transition of civilians into the military life, the facilitators hope this program will continue to gain momentum.