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CMSAF Wright celebrates MTL legacy, tours Keesler

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Holly Mansfield
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright visited Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, to celebrate a ribbon cutting for the new Military Training Leader Course schoolhouse and to tour the base Oct. 23 - 25.

During the ceremony, Wright reflected on the beginning of his career as an airman basic and how the mentorship of MTLs helped shape civilians into Airmen in the world’s greatest Air Force.

“In August of 1989, a young Airman graduated from basic military training and went off to Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas,” said Wright. “He and a few of his friends went to the shoppette, bought beer, shoved the beers in their BDU [battle dress uniform] pockets, went to their door rooms and hid the beers in the ceiling so they could drink in the dorms. Somebody in technical training missed the mark.”

Wright explained that there have been and always will be young Airmen who fall by the way side, but that emphasizes the importance of MTLs.

“What I’ll tell you about that young Airman who went by the name of Airman Basic Kaleth Wright, he wasn’t an anomaly,” said Wright. “There were many more Airmen like him and there are Airmen like him still today. That is why our MTLs are needed. Which is why I’m so excited for where we have come with our MTLs and I’m super excited that we have a school dedicated to finding our best, brightest and most sharp NCOs to help our Airmen make that transition from basic training to technical school and out to the operational Air Force.”

Throughout their more than 40 years of existence, MTLs have had the opportunity to be the direct line for new Airmen to go to so they have a seamless transition from basic military training to their first duty station.

“I would tell you that if I had one dollar to invest in Air Education and Training Command . . . just one dollar,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Brown, Air Education and Training Command deputy commander, “I would invest it in the one person I put in front of Airmen for the most time and at the most impressionable period and that’s our MTLs. That’s what we have here. We have the person who stands firm for Airmen in their most formable stage.”

During his three day visit, Wright took time to tour different units around Keesler and meet the Airmen who accomplish all of the missions housed here. He visited Airmen from the 81st Training Wing, 403rd Wing, 85th Engineering Installation Squadron and 2nd Air Force Headquarters.

After spending time getting familiar with the Keesler mission, he held an all call where he spoke about Air Force initiatives that will affect Airmen. Topics included a discussion about new Air Force uniforms, deliberate development of Airmen and the changes to additional duties.

“Even though there’s a limited number of AFSCs [air force specialty codes] taught here, you contribute to every single Air Force mission that we have,” Wright said. “You send Airmen off to Global Strike Command and Air Mobility Command for rapid air mobility. You directly contribute to command and control and ISR [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance]. When I hear people say this is just a training base I can argue that even though AETC is referred to as the first command and their headquarters is in San Antonio, really, a lot of the missions begin here.”

Wright closed by thanking the Airmen of Keesler for the work they do day in and day out to train the best Airmen in the world.

“I just want to say thank you,” said Wright. “You talk about southern hospitality! I would put this in my top two trips since I’ve been a chief master sergeant. The things I’ve gotten to see and the people I’ve gotten to meet has been very refreshing. As soon as I stepped off the bus at each stop on the tour and saw the faces of the Keesler Airmen, immediately I was reinvigorated. That’s what all of you here at Team Keesler have done for me and I just want to say thank you.”