SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Buzz phrases like “Combat Capability Starts Here” and “Train, Develop and Inspire a Ready, Lethal Force” are often spoken at Sheppard AFB.
Undoubtedly, new graduates of basic military training at Lackland AFB, Texas, hear those words not long after they step off the bus here to begin their technical training and further their journey through Airmanship. Students from sisters services and international partners are also made aware of what the largest and most diverse technical training wing is all about.
Hearing those words, though, and seeing them in action are two distinctly different experiences. Tech. Sgt. Alyxandra Anguiano, F-22 and F-35 weapons course instructor supervisor, has been the embodiment of the mantra and mission of the 82nd Training Wing since arriving in December 2017, the time she began developing agile and modern weapons troops ready to perform anywhere, anytime.
To say Anguiano is passionate about her career field and current position in the training environment wouldn’t do her desire and drive justice as she creates today’s fifth-generation fighter weapons Airmen for tomorrow’s Air Force and, essentially, her replacements. That passion, however, isn’t something handed over like a wrench or safety wires. It’s more than simply providing instruction on how to properly load a munition.
“Think back to your very first supervisor, to the way that they carried themselves, the way they operated, the way they managed you. Then compare that memory to how you behaved in response and how you carry yourself now,” she said. “Every single one of us who now wears the mantle of an NCO can likely look back and recognize where many of their leadership habits and techniques began in that first supervisor. Having recognized this years ago, I’ve taken it to heart knowing that the example I set is fundamental to the mentality these young Airmen are going to carry with them as the basis of their Air Force careers.”
Having passion is critical, but coupling that with a firm foundation of knowledge and experience is what furthers an Airman’s ability to learn, retain and succeed in a demanding and dangerous career field. Anguiano said her personal interest in aviation technology and history was helpful when she worked on the flightline, and has been even more useful in the classroom.
She said students will always challenge an instructor’s knowledge, and the ability to accurately answer those encounters builds credibility and respect with students.
“Both trust and respect are valuable commodities for instructors and leaders alike. It may be the difference between a student disregarding a safety briefing and getting hurt, or not taking the difficulty of a test seriously and failing, or it could be the difference in you really being able to break through to a particularly challenging or challenged Airman,” she said. “Knowledge is the commodity instructor’s deal in and the richer you are, the more good you can do for your students.”
Why does Anguiano approach each day with such passion and dedication? Simply put, she said it’s her love of everything aviation – history, concepts, technical challenges, seeing a jet take off into the sky and vanishing.
She said her career as a weapons troop has put her squarely on the tip of the spear when it comes to taking the fight to the enemy. Through the blood, sweat and tears of performing the job, it’s her own skill and effort and that of Airmen she has trained that puts the “force” in Air Force.
“At the end of the day, seeing that beautiful machine launch with the force to shatter the heavens and sunder our foes, and then looking to my left and to my right to see my crew, my guys, my family, I know that through our combined efforts, we put that jet where it is,” she said. “We toiled together to make that possible, to make that angel soar so that it can perch on the shoulders of the Marines and Soldiers that need it most, when they need it most.”
Anguiano’s time at Sheppard will come to an end in about a year when she returns to the flightline and operationally lead some of the Airmen she has helped training, develop and inspire. In all, that number should reach well above 500 to date. She said she learned that supervising Airmen was her calling before she arrived at Sheppard. Being here and being a people-oriented person has further enflamed that mission to lead.
“I know that I have given every student I’ve trained my all, showed them every trick I know, developed them as weapons troops, Airmen, and as people, and all because they are truly the future of this Air Force,” she said. “They deserve the best start I can give them and I’m determined to do just that, because at the end of the day I’m going to go back to my career field and I’m going to see a lot of them again, likely lead many of them again, and eventually be replaced by them.”