Grissom D&TF Marches Forward With New Flight Chief

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexa Culbert
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

“Forward March! Hut, two, three, four...,” the new Development and Training Flight Chief counts cadence as he leads the newest flight of trainees through basic drill movements. Preparing them for what’s to come in Basic Military Training and marching them forward in their Air Force careers.

The full-time role of D&TF chief has now fallen on Grissom’s own Technical Sgt. Jordi Saunders.

Saunders has been serving at Grissom for eight years and had previously been assigned to the 49th Aerial Port Squadron here.

Saunders said he was fast to jump on the opportunity to become the next D&TF Chief, because of the great experience he personally had with the program.

When he was ten years old, Saunders and his family moved from England to the U.S. for his father’s job and what was supposed to be a three to five year stay became a permanent move for the family.

So when he went through the D&TF himself, he was not yet a U.S. citizen and his flight chief helped with preparing all of the paperwork for him to receive his citizenship through his military service.

“I like being hands-on and when I was going through the program eight years ago, I got a lot out of it,” he said.

After reciting the Oath of Enlistment, the trainees begin reporting to the D&TF during the Primary Unit Training Assembly weekends and do so until it is time for them to ship out to BMT. In the meantime, the D&TF provides them with the tools necessary to be successful in both their upcoming training and throughout their careers.

Every month, the trainees participate in group physical training sessions and a practice fitness assessment to gauge how physically prepared they are for BMT. This time is also spent going over topics such as rank structure, warrior knowledge and opportunities available to them upon completion of training.

“The final thing that we try to focus on here isn’t so much on BMT, but preparing them for the future,” Saunders said.

To help prepare them for what is to come after they return to Grissom, Saunders arranges opportunities for the flight to hear from various organizations located throughout the base, such as the education office, religious affairs and the rising six.

“As a result, we find that we have a generally higher retention rate and higher success rate at BMT,” he said. “ We have a 96 percent retention rate and with every BMT trainee that drops out coming at a cost of 20,000 dollars of taxpayer money that is now just gone. So if anyone drops out during our program, because they wouldn’t be able to make it through BMT, we’re saving the wing’s money as well as the taxpayer’s.”

Because being a Reservist is a part-time job, Saunders said some of the trainees don’t fully comprehend what is going to be asked of them.

“When they show up here we make it very clear to them that this is going to be a big part of your life and this could make or break your career on both the inside and outside, depending on how well you do in the Air Force and that all starts here,” Saunders said.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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