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Reserve MTI squadron, American Airmen march into history

Reserve squadron marches into history

Basic training graduates from the 433rd Training Squadron take their oath of enlistment during their July 16 graduation ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history

The 721st Operations Group, commander, Col. John Thien, administers the oath to the newest members of the U.S. Air Force during the 433rd Training Squadron basic military training graduation ceremony July 16 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history

The senior enlisted leader of the 721st Operations Group, Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Laliberte, congratulates basic training graduates before his commander, Col. John Thien, administers the oath to the newest members of the U.S. Air Force. Laliberte and Thien were special guests at the 433rd Training Squadron's basic military training graduation held July 16 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history

433rd Training Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Anthony Erard speaks to basic military training graduates, their families and friends watching during a live-streamed graduation ceremony, and his military training instructors during BMT the 433rd TRS graduation. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history

433rd Training Squadron military training instructors present their graduating flights with the coveted Air Force coin. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history

433rd Training Squadron military training instructors proceed to their graduating flights to present their graduates with the coveted Air Force coin. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history

Chief Master Sgt. Tamara Strange, 433rd Training Squadron superintendent, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, offers opening remarks prior to the 433rd TRS basic military graduation ceremony. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history

Chaplain (Capt.) Tamer Sayedahmed, offers the invocation before the basic military training graduation of 433rd Training Squadron recruits. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history

340th Flying Training Group Commander Col. Michael J. Vanzo, and 433rd Training Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Anthony Erard, Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Tamara Strange, Director of Operations Maj. Robert Glover and Operations NCO Master Sgt. Matthew Scott salute during the national anthem, kicking off the July 16 basic military training graduation featuring 433rd TRS graduates. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history
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737th Training Group leaders, special guests and the basic military training chaplain prepare for the July 16 ceremony during which 433rd Training Squadron trainees will graduate from BMT. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history
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Leadership and members of the 433rd Training Squadron confer about the upcoming basic military training graduation ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history
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340th Flying Training Group Commander Col. Michael J. Vanzo (left) is welcomed to the 433rd Training Squadron's basic military training graduation ceremony by members of the preparation team. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history
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433rd Training Squadron leadership and staff pose for an historic group shot with their basic training graduates and the 340th Flying Training Group commander following graduation ceremonies held July 16 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

Reserve squadron marches into history
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433rd Training Squadron Commander Anthony Erard (right) and his director of operations Maj. Robert Glover discuss wrap-up tasks following the 433rd TRS basic military training graduation held July 16 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The 433rd, the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, for the first time in Air Force history, assuming a full share of BMT training responsibilities. The historic class graduated July 16 at the Pfingston Reception Center at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Debbie Gildea)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Randolph, Texas – The Air Force Reserve's 433rd Training Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, marched hundreds of Total Force Air Force trainees into the history books today when those trainees took their Airman's Oath during basic military training graduation, and took their place in the long blue line.

The new Airmen are the first to complete basic training in the fully operational, all-Reserve military training squadron.

The 433rd TRS, one of seven squadrons assigned to the 340th Flying Training Group at JBSA-Randolph, is the only all-Reserve military training instructor squadron in the Air Force. In past, 433rd TRS Reserve MTIs were embedded in Regular Air Force (active duty) squadrons to support the Air Education and Training Command enlisted accession mission.

In May, the squadron, supplemented by former active duty MTIs who were invited to return temporarily to MTI duty, stood up as a line squadron alongside the active duty, inviting its Reserve MTIs to return to the squadron to lead its trainees through 7.5 weeks of training. Volunteers from the 433rd Airlift Wing at JBSA-Lackland rounded out the team, serving in administrative support functions.

Surging the squadron amid a global health crisis that resulted in travel restrictions, physical distancing requirements, and personal protective equipment concerns was a challenge, said Squadron Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Tamara Strange.

"This wasn't easy, but we came away with a sense of accomplishment in overcoming anticipated and unanticipated challenges," she said. "The trainees and MTIs gave everything they had and they earned their place in history!"

In addition to smaller flights (enabling trainees to maintain necessary physical distance), most basic training processes are new or modified. When recruits arrive for training, they enter a two-week holding period, during which they are carefully assessed for any signs of illness. During that two weeks, they receive instruction on a variety of knowledge and skills, including drill and ceremony, customs and courtesies and more. They also do regular physical training.

Some aspects of BMT are delayed, though, like practical application of uniform wear. In past, flights reported en masse to uniform issue. Now, to preserve physical distancing requirements, Army and Air Force Exchange Service representatives come to the unit to get trainee size information and uniforms are delivered when they're ready. Until the uniforms arrive, trainees wear physical training gear.

The traditional graduation ceremony is the most visibly obvious change. To protect Airmen, their families and staff, graduation ceremonies include individual squadrons only, and are closed to the public. Ceremonies no longer include a parade, and are live-streamed on Facebook (so families and friends can watch).

"Trainees are generally aware that things are different, but this is 'the norm' for them – they haven't experienced anything else – so they've done fine. Our MTIs have also adapted and excelled, in spite of countless challenges they encountered over the past seven-plus weeks," said 433rd TRS Commander Lt. Col. Anthony Erard. "They are consummate professionals and I couldn't be more proud of them!"

Although graduations are now closed to the public, ensuring trainees have a motivational send-off is important, Erard explained, so special guests are invited to speak.

The 433rd's historic graduation also featured an appropriately historic reviewing official: Col. John Thien. The first commander of the 721st Operations Group, which was activated in October 2019, accompanied by his senior enlisted leader Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Laliberte.

Also on hand to celebrate the occasion was the 340th FTG commander who is new to his role as commander, but is far from new to the unit or its mission.

Col. Michael Vanzo, who assumed command of the 340th FTG in March, refreshed his relationship with the squadron, where he once served as the director of operations. In addition, Vanzo formerly commanded another 340th squadron: the 70th Flying Training Squadron at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and served as the group director of operations prior to his assignment with 22nd Air Force in Georgia.

“This is all about what the 340th FTG and the Reserves can do to answer our nation's call.  About two months ago Colonel Newsom (737th Operations Group Commander) and I discussed the plan to stand up the 433rd and start 'pushing' classes independently.  With Tony (Erard) and Chief (Strange) leading our exceptionally experienced MTIs and the 737th providing the resource support, I was looking at a guaranteed win.  That’s 'Total Force' in action and a perfect example of the flexibility we need to overcome current and future challenges in BMT.  Based on the professionalism, pride and morale displayed during this ceremony, the 433rd TRS stand-up is a proven success and will continue to 'Lead' and produce exceptional Airmen,” Vanzo said.

The squadron has no time to rest on its laurels, though. Tuesday, July 21, unit MTIs will welcome the next 560 recruits, and will kick off another 7.5 weeks of training, education and mentoring to lead those recruits to their place in the long blue line.

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