Series 1: Members of Student Flight get ready for training
By Airman 1st Class Emily Hulse, 151st ARW/PA
/ Published June 12, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY -- "Hup, two, three four! Hup, two, three, four!"
The newest Utah Air National Guard recruits get a taste of how their lives will be run for eight weeks in the coming months, parading around the base in formation, as they prepare for Air Force Basic Training.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Gerdes is the newest in the line of Student Flight coordinators with the 151st Air Refueling Wing. Sergeant Gerdes moved over from firefighting because he said he wanted to be part of training new Airmen.
"The reason I applied for the position was so I can help raise the next generation of Airmen," said Sgt. Gerdes.
Sergeant Gerdes said that when new Airmen are recruited and sworn in, they have the option to come to Student Flight on UTA weekends and learn more about what life at basic training will be like.
"My goal is to help them prepare for the Air Force in general," said Sergeant Gerdes. "I want to be able to give them the big picture."
In preparation for the eight-week Basic Military Training program, the flight spends the weekends studying rank structure, the Airman's Creed, and uniform standards, as well as learning and practicing drill and marching.
Nikko Valdez, a member of Student Flight since February, said he decided to enlist and join student flight because he already had friends in the Guard.
"I saw a buddy of mine graduate from basic training at Lackland, and I just liked the look of the blues," said Valdez. "I've got another friend who's in the maintenance squadron who convinced me to come to Student Flight."
Valdez said he feels that there's nothing he can't handle, but he doesn't want to become a target for instructors.
"I have a messed up sense of humor," he said. "I'm one of those 'giggly guys,' I laugh at stuff that usually scares other people."
Valdez said he has gotten a lot of advice from friends and coworkers, but said he isn't too worried about training.
"I'm most excited about getting into shape, learning more discipline and getting the chance to serve my country," he said. "I'm also glad I'll get to serve and still be with my family."
Valdez will report to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base July 25, and then will go to technical training at Goodfellow AFB. He will join the 151st Civil Engineer Squadron as a firefighter upon his return.