JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
As part of Military Appreciation Month, the 433rd Training Squadron hosted three alumni May 16, 2022, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, who not only help stand up the unit but helped shape the identity it still carries to this day.
The tour consisted of retired Col. Joseph Hearn, first commander for the 8050th Training Squadron; retired 1st Lt. Thomas Helm, 8050th TRS Training Superintendent; and retired Col. Eric Burgener, 8050th TRS Military Training Instructor, Section Supervisor and who later returned as deputy commander. Hearn who stood up the 433rd TRS, formerly the 8050th Training Squadron, under the U.S. Air Force Reserves on March 15, 1983, was thankful for the opportunity to be able to see how far the unit had come since its inception.
“We were incredibly encouraged to see how the unit has evolved, since we put a lot of time and work into the squadron,” Hearn said. “Seeing where it’s at today was just phenomenal.”
During the first part of the tour, the team had an opportunity to see a Basic Military Training classroom session at the 433rd TRS campus and learn about the mission the team now oversees under the 340th Flying Training Group.
“Our instructors were originally farmed out to the active-duty squadrons and ran a flight within that squadron. We weren’t running a whole squadron like they are today,” Hearn said. “When I first got here, the concept of having a Reserve squadron in Air Education and Training Command was unusual … but I got the squadron entrenched in BMT. Our folks would go into the squadrons and relieve some of the active-duty people so they could actually go on leave or take off for holidays, which they had never been able to do before because they simply didn’t have the numbers to do it.”
“A lot of us were active-duty training instructors with no place to go once we went entered into the Reserves,” Helm added. “A squadron that initially started to 11, grew to 100, and now has their own BMT flight shows it’s become a one-of-a-kind unit.”
While visiting the dining area, the alumni were able to go through the historical scrapbook logs that the unit has carried since it’s activation in 1983.
“There was a lot of history that we just didn’t know. You see the leather-bound books that we have,” said Maj. Robert Glover, 433rd TRS commander. “Having the books is one thing, but having the people who created the books here helps us actually understand the context.”
Current squadron members even had an opportunity to learn how the squadron patch came to fruition thanks to Burgener’s mom, Karen, who was an artist in San Antonio at the time.
“She came up with the design you see on the patch today. We wanted the center to reflect the heraldry of the unit, so I went home and my mom, who lived with me at the time, was able to integrate the elements from the Alamo Wing and Air Education and Training Command and create what you see today,” Burgener said. “I know she’d be [proud] that her artwork is still in use today.”
After finishing the tour, Maj. Glover presented all three alumni with a unit challenge coin and recommended the team come back for future functions at the squadron.
“This unit served as the greatest leadership laboratory that I was ever in,” Burgener said. “From its humble beginnings to where it’s at today and the prominent role it plays in preparing our Airmen and Guardians, there’s a tremendous sense of pride to see where the organization has come.”