PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Grammy award-winning rap artist Drake in his song “Own it” said, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” For me, that would have been the day I joined the military. It was a new, nerve-racking and challenging process.
After visiting an Air Force Reserve recruiter, my military journey began. As my luck would have it, a half-day of medical processing turned into four separate 50-mile trips until several months later when I finally completed step 1.
Step 2 was choosing what my Air Force job would be. Sifting through available positions was grueling. After three months, I finally narrowed down my selection to Public Affairs where I learned photojournalism – a perfect match after considering so many options.
Eventually, I took the oath of enlistment and swore into the U.S. Air Force Reserve and discovered I was on hold for attending Basic Military Training. Waiting on a start date was stressful because my mind filled with doubts. All I could think about was how well I would or wouldn’t do at BMT.
To ensure success, I became enthusiastic about maintaining excellent health. I hit the gym like a beast and even started consuming less than tasty fruit smoothies like an herbivore.
Luckily, the Air Force had a better method for ensuring my success. While I awaited BMT, I was enrolled into a delayed entry program within my future unit called a Developmental and Training Flight. My flight was skillfully led by Master Sgt. Robert Carcieri, the DT&F Program Manager with the 920th Rescue Wing here.
DT&F prepares new enlistees during monthly Unit Training Assemblies for BMT. After I was enrolled, Master Sgt. Carcieri filled my inbox with Air Force related information which he instructed me to study.
When I showed up to my first UTA here, I was impressed by the demeanor the Airmen demonstrated.
I had my first briefing before we marched to an outdoor track to take a physical fitness test. Five minutes into the test, I was feeling pretty confident because I aced my pushups and sit-ups, but then came the mile-and-a-half run. After the first few laps, I felt like I was going to die from exhaustion. It turns out, all the weight lifting I did to this point, didn’t build my cardio endurance. I did terribly.
In the training weekends that followed, we went on road runs, beach runs and had gym sessions; sometimes several in a day. Master Sgt. Carcieri and the other leaders made one thing clear: to be ready, you have to train, train and then train some more.
In addition to the physical aspect, the DT&F program built a sense of comradery among my fellow Airman giving me a network of new friends.
During some training sessions, we even joined up with Junior ROTC cadets who helped us practice drill movements, like marching. Also, Airmen who were experts in their respective fields presented us with a variety of different Air Force topics. This contributed to my growing schema of the Air Force. We covered everything from how to fill out travel vouchers, to administering first aid, to the military rank structure. Even essentials such as customs and courtesies were a part of the curriculum.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, Master Sgt. Carcieri brought in veteran DT&F members who shared detailed insight into the BMT experience. Their testimony was eye opening.
Finally, after several months of drilling with my DT&F Airmen, I received my ship out date and left for BMT shortly thereafter.
When I enlisted, I thought I was ready for BMT. In truth, I probably was. However, I was looking at it as a pass or fail experience, but that’s not what it should be. The DT&F wasn’t preparing me to graduate, it was prepping me to be my very best. As a result, I showed up to BMT extremely well prepared. My BMT flight had two honor grads; I was one of them.