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Serving, teaching, leading all parts of a successful career

Posted 5/29/2012   Updated 5/24/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Adawn Kelsey
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

5/29/2012 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- With Sheppard being the largest technical training wing in the Air Force, it is imperative the instructors here are top-notch and have the ability to not only teach, but inspire Airmen in Training.

In a Memorandum to all Airmen from Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, he said the future demands Airmen to be adept leaders, agile thinkers and innovators. The instructors are the ones who must bring the experience to training and education in order to be role models for Airmen.

Tech. Sgt. Daniel McCormick, 362nd Training Squadron C-130 Aircraft Maintenance instructor, said he thinks back to how he felt when he left the same course he teaches today 13 years ago. Although the generation is different, he still sees the same enthusiasm he had in the Airmen he teaches today.

"Shaping a person into an Airman can seem to be a daunting task," said McCormick. "In reality, most of them already have the traits of good Airmanship within them. Making them realize the positive values and convincing them to embrace the morality is the task."

Tech. Sgt. Bradley Pardue, 362nd TRS C-130 Airlift instructor, said he believes instructors have the opportunity and responsibility of shaping and molding Airmen and helping them reach their full potential.

"I fully believe that you have the first opportunity to shape and mold Airman to become the best possible or the worst," Pardue said. "If you are enthusiastic and sell your job, they will love what they do. If you don't care, they don't care, plain and simple. They will imitate what type of instructor or person you are, so you always have to stay upbeat and professional at all times."

Pardue said one of the most gratifying parts of instructor duty is when his students reach back out to him after they graduate and give him updates on how they are doing.

"I enjoy watching the student progress both during the course and in their careers," he said. "I frequently receive updates for former students about where they are and what they are experiencing in their career after they leave my class. It always makes me proud or gives me a sense of accomplishment when they do well."

As a new instructor, Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rogers, 362nd TRS C-130 Crew Chief instructor said he volunteered and was excited when he received his assignment to Sheppard.

"I have always been told to 'train your replacements,'" said Rogers. "I think my favorite part of being an instructor is knowing that I can be not only a teacher, but also a mentor for so many of our future crew chiefs."

Although Rogers is enthusiastic about his job, he faces challenges as he settles into his instructor position.

"For me, the hardest part is allowing myself to slow down," he said. "The operations tempo is obviously a lot slower than it is in the operational C-130 world. I have to remember that my mission has changed from actively putting aircraft in the air to teaching new Airmen.

"It's my turn to ensure they understand what I am teaching them so they can go out and perform safe maintenance and put aircraft in the air."

Schwartz also said in the memorandum that a successful career should include a tour of duty as an instructor.

"We must acknowledge the tremendous responsibilities we place on our instructor cadre, and we must ensure they are properly recognized and valued," Schwartz said. "As we continue to shape policies on force development, we will pay careful attention to the professional progression of our instructors."

Rogers said even before he heard a successful career should include a tour of duty as an instructor he saw the duty as important for his career.

"It allows me to work outside of my job and gain more experience and knowledge," he said. "It also allows me to have a direct and noticeable influence on many people early in their careers. Hopefully some of them will take some of the things I have told or showed them and pass them on to their troops when the time comes. Being an instructor also affords me more time to commit and prepare myself for more rank, and ultimately, more responsibility."

McCormick also agreed with the general. However, he sees instructor duty as grounding Airmen to their core values. Being an NCO is more than just a position or title, it's a separate mentality, duty and responsibility.

"These values are encompassed in the aspect of 'pride,'" he said. "Instructing is like farming. We plant the seeds, cultivate the information, allow the fruit to flourish, and harvest the knowledge there in. Seeing this culminate in someone that you've inspired is an eye-opening experience."

McCormick, who was recently awarded the squadron NCO of the year award for leadership and outstanding professionalism, supervised 38 instructors who provided nearly 900 C-130 aircraft maintenance apprentices. He said being an instructor has significant benefits in a military career.

"It increases my leadership abilities and places a permanent mark on my record of Airmen development," he said. "A successful instructing career is a statement to those above that I am willing to go above and beyond my normal duties. We go outside of our comfort zone in order to shape our future.

"Everyone should be an instructor at some point in their career. It will get you out of your shell and open you up to aspects, perceptions, concepts, and temperaments of others. Overall, it makes us more rounded leaders able to adapt and overcome."

1/1/2014 10:56:44 AM ET
This story brings back memories of my time spent at Sheppard in early 1969 training to be a C-130 crew chief. Thanks to the excellent instructors there I finally got to use my training in 1971 at Forbes AFB. I am now 68 and would love to visit Sheppard and check out the current training facility and equipment.All the best to the Sheppard instructors
Skip Graves, Keller TX
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