JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
Basic Military Training, or BMT, an intensive eight-week program, is designed to challenge the mental and physical resilience of enlisted U.S. Air Force recruits and U.S. Space Force Guardians.
For decades, the USAF independently operated BMT separately from other services at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. As a result, only Airmen were eligible for the prestigious recognition as the Top BMT Graduate, an award given to the highest performer.
This changed in October 2020, when USSF Guardians began attending BMT alongside their Airmen counterparts. By 2021, the USSF stood up its own training detachment, 1st Delta Operations Squadron Detachment 1, and later implemented a Guardian-specific curriculum, separate from the USAF.
Nearly two years later, U.S. Space Force Specialist 3 Dakota Desrosiers, an all-source intelligence analyst, made BMT history as the first USSF-trained Guardian to be named both the USSF Top Performer and Top Graduate.
The USSF Top Performer is a peer-nominated award exclusive to USSF graduates. In this instance, Desrosiers was voted as the top performer among 86 Guardians.
In contrast, the Top Graduate is an award based purely on performance throughout the entire graduating class of both the USSF and USAF. Aspects evaluated include academics, physical training, living area inspections, and demonstrated leadership.
Typically, 10 percent of each class will finish with honors based on their performance, but only one individual earns the honor of being named the Top Graduate.
Desrosiers' exemplary performance led to him being named the Top Graduate among an impressive cohort of 444 Guardians and Airmen.
Meet Spc. 3 Dakota Desrosiers
Raised in a diverse, blended family, Desrosiers spent most of his life in Florida.
Although he had a long-standing desire to serve, he struggled to envision himself in any particular military branch. It was not until February 2023, at the age of 26, that the USSF captured his interest. At the time, he was recruiting for positions in renewable energy, project management, and data engineering.
“I was tracking SpaceX launches for work and read somewhere they had plans to collaborate with the Space Force. It reminded me there was a newer branch of the military I hadn’t explored,” said Desrosiers.
Intrigued, he visited the official USSF website and delved into the different enlisted career fields available. Captivated by what he found, Desrosiers spent hours listening to speeches from senior USSF leaders and reading the Guardian Ideal document.
“I loved everything I read,” said Desrosiers. “For the first time, I found a role I thought I would enjoy in a military organization I could envision myself joining.”
After reviewing the requirements to join, he discovered he needed to have either a high school diploma or a GED. What could have been a deterrent for others was simply a minor obstacle for Desrosiers.
“I didn’t have my high school diploma or GED, but after deciding the Space Force was something I definitely wanted to pursue, I went online and scheduled my GED tests. Within 72 hours, I had taken all four tests and passed,” he said. “As soon as I received my credentials, I contacted a Space Force recruiter.”
By April 2023, Desrosiers had qualified to join the USSF and secured his position as an all-source intelligence analyst, a field that appealed to his love for learning and research.
Basic Military Training
Although Desrosiers felt mentally prepared for BMT, he recognized he needed to improve his physical condition to meet the challenges ahead.
“I had to lose about 15 pounds before I could depart,” he said.
With a revised diet, a new cardio routine, and the support of his family, Desrosiers reached the necessary weight and left for BMT on May 2, 2023.
“My mom was extremely excited for me to go, so we did a mock PT test together before I left,” he said. “We timed each other for push-ups and sit-ups, and also completed the 1.5-mile run together.”
Arriving at BMT, Desrosiers had high expectations for himself. Setting his sights on becoming the Top Graduate, he locked onto his goal and immersed himself in the USSF culture.
“I tried to focus on process over outcome. I figured if I took it day by day, followed orders, and did my absolute best at any task I was given, it would be enough to earn honor graduate status,” said Desrosiers.
Desrosiers had other aspirations as well, such as becoming an element leader or dorm chief, but he wasn't chosen for those positions. Instead, he was selected as a guidon bearer, a role he grew to love.
“It was a lot of fun. I assumed more of an informal leadership role in the dorms and during guidon practice, I was able to meet and collaborate with other Guardians and Airmen,” he said.
Despite his efforts to physically prepare for BMT, Desrosiers fell short of passing his first fitness test by a narrow margin. Instead of dwelling on the disappointment, he saw this setback as an opportunity for improvement.
“I was disappointed to fall short, so I set a rule for myself that whenever I saw a fellow Guardian doing push-ups alone, I would join them,” said Desrosiers.
Over time, he grew stronger and faster, and his teammates started to follow the standard he set, ensuring no Guardian was left to do push-ups alone.
“An ideal Guardian is someone who is mentally and physically strong, confident, but not complacent, and an inspiration and role model to those around them,” said Desrosiers. “Keeping that in mind, I just did my best to embody that each day.”
Desrosiers went on to describe his mindset of resilience.
“I couldn't afford to stop because then I would become someone else's reason to stop, rather than someone's reason to push forward,” he said. “Stopping wasn't an option for me.”
Graduation week is comprised of three parts. On Tuesday, Guardians participate in a private patching ceremony where they receive their first USSF Patches. On Wednesday, Guardians and Airmen join together for a run and coining ceremony in front of friends and family. The final graduation ceremony takes place on Thursday.
It was during Tuesday's patching ceremony that Desrosiers first heard his name announced as the USSF Top Performer.
“It took me a second to realize what was happening. I was surprised to hear that my teammates had voted for me,” said Desrosiers.
After receiving his award on stage, his fellow Guardians congratulated him as they took turns signing each other's flight photos.
On the way back to the dorms, Desrosiers was stopped by Military Training Instructor USSF Tech. Sgt. Michelle Holt. She asked how many family members would attend the coining ceremony and proceeded to inform him he was the first USSF-trained Guardian to earn the Top Graduate award. She asked how well he had memorized the Airman’s Creed.
There is a moment in every coining ceremony when the Top Graduate leads Airmen graduates in reciting the Airman's Creed. Although the creed is taught in the USSF curriculum, Guardians typically remain silent during this part because the USSF has not yet released their own. However, given Desrosiers' selection as Top Graduate, he would lead Airmen graduates in the reciting, and his fellow Guardians would join him.
“I was familiar with the creed but wasn’t confident I knew it well enough to recite in front of thousands of people,” he said.
After congratulating Desrosiers, Holt instructed him to make sure he and the other Guardians were ready.
Later that day, Desrosiers had the honor of standing amongst his peers as another MTI highlighted his historic achievement.
“It was such an awesome moment. I stood there at attention while my teammates cheered for me and congratulated me,” he said.
That night, every Guardian gathered around their beds and practiced reciting the Airman’s Creed together.
Family is Everything
When it came time for his name to be announced as the Top Graduate, Desrosiers’ family was present, cheering in full support.
“My family had no idea that I was being recognized until I was marching to the front,” said Desrosiers. “I didn’t hear them because I was so focused on making sure I executed the correct sequence of movements, but my teammates told me they were screaming.”
Desrosiers credits his family as his greatest motivation.
“Family means everything to me, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” he said.
With BMT behind him, Desrosiers has since reported to the 533d Training Squadron at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, where he is attending the Gateway Training Program.
“Part of the reason I joined was to have the chance to make history and contribute in a way that no one has before,” he said. “I know now that I made the right decision to embark on this journey, and I am excited about the road ahead.”
One thing is for sure — the future looks bright for this trailblazing young Guardian.