GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. --
The Air Force Reserve prides itself on bringing together a vast network of Airmen with diverse experiences, and one Grissom firefighter went above and beyond to contribute a unique perspective.
Master Sgt. Christopher Bauchle, 434th Civil Engineering Squadron assistant fire chief, recently completed the Marine Staff NCO advanced course at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
“I wanted to see what the Marine Corps does better, worse or just differently from the Air Force,” said Bauchle. “This school was my first choice and I was fortunate enough to be one of four Air Force reservists to get it this year.”
Bauchle improved his chances by thoroughly researching the school beforehand and tailoring his application to the qualities which the school valued most.
“I knew the school was very big on physical training, so I talked about that in my application,” said Bauchle. “I also spoke about the Marine Corps’ planning process, and how I want to integrate ideas from that into our own processes.”
Bauchle expressed having some anxiety about having to play catch-up in the Marine course.
“When I went into it, I was imagining that I was going to be behind on the learning-curve simply because I wasn’t familiar with Marine culture,” he said. “As it turns out, the way they operate isn’t terribly different from the Air Force.”
The course instructors made sure to keep instructions broad and understandable by members of all services and career fields, said Bauchle.
“When you take a step back and look at the big picture, the problems and challenges we face in the Air Force are usually the exact same issues they’re tackling in the Marine Corps,” he said. “All the things we don’t like to do, they don’t like to do either.”
Despite the commonalities, there were some distinct differences Bauchle noticed during his time with the Marine instructors, he said.
“There is so much pride in the Marine Corps; pride in their history, their heritage, the hardships they’ve shared and the fact that they’re usually the first ones in the fight,” said Bauchle. “People are proud to serve in the Air Force but in the Marine Corps, they’ve built this entire culture around it.
“If we could only learn one thing from the Marines, I’d like to see us be as proud of our own accomplishments as they are of theirs,” he added.
The experience also gave Bauchle a newfound appreciation for some of the opportunities the Air Force provides, he said.
“While I was there, there was a lot of talk among the Marine leaders about how to encourage their troops to pursue personal education goals while also advancing their military careers,” said Bauchle. “We already have a system in place for that through the Community College of the Air Force.”
There are almost endless opportunities for education and career development with the Air Force, and Bauchle intends to continue taking advantage of them.
“I’ve already begun looking into other courses I could take, including some with NATO in Europe,” said Bauchle. “My next one will probably be an Air Force course though, because after training with Marines, I’d like to see what our own branch has to offer.”
Chief Master Sgt. Wesley Marion, 434th Air Refueling Wing command chief, encouraged Airmen to become involved with career development courses.
“There’s a ton of different courses out there, so I recommend Airmen find ones that interest them and that will be useful to them in some way,” said Marion. “For example, if you know you’re going to be deploying with a sister service in the coming year, you may consider finding a course with them to familiarize yourself.”
Marion explained that while these courses are not required, they are an invaluable asset in an Airman’s career.
“None of these courses are mandatory for promotion, but they can open up new opportunities for people,” Marion said. “Being accepted to and completing these courses reflects well on an Airman.
“Grissom is a fantastic base, but there are a lot of experiences you’ll never have if you don’t leave every once in a while,” he continued. “The experience you bring back with you is what makes us stronger as a unit.”