JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
In honor of International Women’s Day, Basic Military Training graduation at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland hosted the annual Women’s Parade March 6.
International Women’s Day was March 8. It is an annual global day of celebration of the social, political, cultural and economic achievements of women. This year’s campaign theme was #Eachforequal, which highlights the fact that an equal world is a world where everyone is enabled to do their part to help communities to thrive.
This year’s BMT parade hosted the Wings of Blue parachute jumpers for the first time, as well as the traditional all-female mass, in which the female Military Training Instructors marched down the bomb run once the graduating class had passed, according to Tech. Sgt. Sylvia Black, an MTI for the 737th Training Group Standardization and Evaluation Flight.
“I’m actually the organizer of the ceremony,” Black said. “And I have the opportunity to be in it because of Women’s Month.”
Black’s office makes arrangements for all of the ceremonies, ensuring that everything aligns with protocol. For the women’s parade, it took about two weeks to pull everything together.
“I’m over the military drill and ceremonies for BMT when it comes to distinguished visitors,” she said. “I need information from them to add to the narrator’s script to acknowledge them as well as [information from] the reviewing official who will administer the oath of enlistment to the new airmen.”
Her office also works with Tech. Sgt. David Worley, 737th Training Group Protocol non-commissioned officer, to make sure all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed.
“We just do the finer details. We’re the support element,” he said. “I handle seating, distinguished visitors, parking permits and BMT tours. Anybody who comes as a guest to see a BMT graduation -- whether it’s a DV or a family member -- my job is to make sure that their seating and the equipment is adequate for them.”
As she prepared for the ceremony, Black said that the best parts of being a woman in the military are the opportunities for character growth and the development of confidence. After having served 14 years so far in Security Forces before becoming an MTI, she is sure that her job has enabled her to challenge herself constantly, which she said is a good thing.
“I was always shy and really didn't want to express my opinions about certain things,” she said. “I've had to grow over the years. Being in this job has enabled me to get the confidence to be able to hold my ground when it comes to certain situations and to understand that everybody's human at the end of the day.”
Worley acknowledged the difficulties that could arise being a woman working in Security Forces, a traditionally male-dominated field. He said that Black navigated the challenges with grace.
“I've got the opportunity to work with Tech. Sgt. Black in this position and she's an absolutely outstanding professional,” Worley said.
According to Worley, 25 to 30 percent of each graduating BMT class are women. The parade honored the sacrifices these new graduates and all other female service members have made for the United States.
“To the MTIs, wow. Incredible. Your dedication and professionalism is matchless,” said Col. Melissa Cunningham, the ceremony’s reviewing official. “You are the best and you are training the best. Thank you very much.”