‘Atten-TION!’ Students receive technical, professional training at Dover

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
"Road guards out," shouts a motivated and organized student leader, dressed in an immaculate uniform, sporting a distinctive yellow rope over his left shoulder. The disciplined students, garbed in bright-orange vests, march out into the center of Atlantic Avenue and secure a safe passage for their fellow flight members to march across the busy street during morning rush-hour traffic.
Airmen and civilians from across Dover Air Force Base patiently wait as the formation of Airmen cross the street. After the flight has safely crossed Atlantic Avenue, the student leader barks another command, calling the road guards in. The motorists resume their journey to work, and some may wonder who those sharp Airmen were and what they are doing at Dover AFB.
The Airman mentioned is Airman 1st Class Carlos Vela, 373rd Training Squadron student and student leader. Airman Vela is commonly referred to by fellow students and the staff as a yellow-rope.
373rd TRS, Detachment 3 is a tenant unit here, which officially belongs to the Air Education and Training Command. Airman Vela and the other students come to Dover to learn formal aircraft maintenance training prior to heading out to their first duty assignments to support the C-5 weapons system at various bases.
Detachment 3 offers 44 courses in its 25-classroom training facility and utilizes C-5 maintenance trainers and equipment valued at more than $25 million, said Senior Master Sgt. James Craster, 373rd TRS superintendent.
"Our formal training courses include airplane general 3-Level Air Force specialty code awarding and APG advanced systems training, as well as advanced systems training for aerospace ground equipment, instruments and flight controls, communications and navigation, electrical and environmental, hydraulics, and propulsion systems," continued Sergeant Craster. "The detachment also supports training sessions to aircrews. The 24 highly qualified instructors instruct over 1,000 students each year, compiling more than 26,000 hours of classroom, flightline and support-shop instruction."
The school is an extension of their basic crew chief training.
"Our Airmen go through a basic crew chief fundamentals course at Sheppard Air Force Base prior to coming here," said Staff Sgt. Robert Cote, 373rd Training Squadron mission-ready Airmen C-5 instructor. "They learn the basics at Sheppard and the C-5 specifics here at Dover. When the students leave here, after a 28-academic-day course, they are mission-ready; they have a good understanding of their airframe and are trained, ready to arrive at their base and start work."
Not only do the students receive technical training here, they are also disciplined in Airmenship.
"We train them in the whole-person concept," said Staff Sgt. Braderick Adams, 373rd TRS chief military training leader. "We teach them about being team players. We instill confidence, discipline, loyalty and professionalism in the students. We set them up for success when they get out there to their first bases."
Staff Sgt. Robert Jackson, 373rd TRS MTL, agrees with Sergeant Adams and elaborated, "MTLs are the students' supervisors, first-sergeants, mentors and sometimes instruments of discipline."
Sergeant Jackson's physique stiffened and demeanor became increasingly serious as he continued, "We instill values in the students and make them stick. When the students leave here, they are set up for success. It is on their gaining supervisors to carry on their mentorship and discipline after that."
The student leaders take on a large role in the development of the other students. The student leaders march the other students to and from school and supervise their behavior and work details at the dorms.
"My biggest challenge is finding enough time to succeed at school, look after the Airmen under me and still keep my boots shined, room clean and uniforms pristine," said Airman Vela. "All the challenges are worth it to me. When the NCOs retire from our career field, I want to be ready to pick up where they left off, you know - keeping the C-5s in the air."
The students' academics and professional development are both important, said Sergeant Adams. Everyone needs to keep in mind that these are non-prior-service students and very impressionable. They need to see all Dover Airmen looking good and living by the highest standards.
Also, continued Sergeant Adams, motorists need to be careful around the troop movements. There have been instances of motorists speeding and driving carelessly around the marching students.
When the troops are crossing the streets or road guards are out, all traffic must come to a complete stop, said Chief Master Sgt. James Glover, 436th Security Forces Squadron manager.
Air Force missions are moving at light speed. To backfill the demanding crew chief career fields, Dover's 373rd TRS continues to produce top-notch maintainers.
The daylight dims, the shadows grow long on Atlantic Avenue as another day comes to a close. Stomps of boot heels echo as a student flight marches with its proud yellow-rope marching directly to its left. "Flight, halt. Left, face," he shouts. The yellow rope then marches himself directly in front of the flight. The Airmen stand firm until the fall-out command finally comes from their leader, and they retire for another night.