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NEWS | May 23, 2024

97th Air Mobility Wing leaders join Air Force BMT graduation

By Senior Airman Kari Degraffenreed 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

More than 40 leaders from the 97th Air Mobility Wing flew down south to tour portions of the enlisted Air Force’s initial training facilities and participate in a Basic Military Training graduation at the 37th Training Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, from May 14-16, 2024.

The first part of the three-day excursion was a tour of the 37th Training Group’s Career Enlisted Aviator Center of Excellence, where all enlisted aircrew receive their initial training before moving on to their operational training technical schools. This gave commanders from the 58th Airlift Squadron, 56th Air Refueling Squadron, and 54th Air Refueling Squadron a chance to see what the newest Airmen arriving at their schoolhouses in Altus are learning at the outset of their training.

At the next stop, the group watched the first part of the BMT graduation events, which included the Airman’s Run. Col. Jeff Marshall, 97th AMW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Justin Brundage, 97th AMW command chief, joined trainees of the 321st Training Squadron for the one-and-a-half-mile run through Airman’s Arena at the Pfingston Reception Center. Soon after, the group watched the traditional Airman’s Coin & Retreat ceremony, where trainees receive a coin from their Military Training Instructor and officially transition from trainee to Airman.

“This leadership immersion for our commanders, senior enlisted leaders, and first sergeants to BMT has been a phenomenal way to learn and develop as a team,” said Brundage. “Witnessing 494 young men and women transform from citizens to Airmen was certainly a career highlight and centered all of us on the priorities of Airmen, mission, and culture at the Mighty 97th. I am honored to serve alongside each and every one of our newest Airmen and our incredible leaders of Mobility’s Hometown.”

After the coining ceremony, Tech. Sgt. Ericha Guyote, 737th Training Group chief of BMT protocol, escorted the team through the 331st Training Squadron to see where the trainees work out, sleep, and participate in classes during the seven-and-a-half-week course.

On the final day of the graduation, Marshall served as the reviewing official for the BMT graduation parade, presided over the pass in review where Airmen marched down the “bomb run,” and administered the oath of office; while Brundage addressed the graduating class.

"As a reviewing officer at the Air Force basic military training graduation, I witnessed the culmination of dedication, discipline, and excellence,” said Marshall. “In the hands of the 737th Training Group and our steadfast military training instructors, 494 new Airmen emerged, embodying the future of our Air Force. Today we celebrated not just their achievements, but the unwavering commitment to service that will propel us forward, ensuring the Air Force remains a beacon of strength and integrity for generations to come."

At the end of the visit to the 37th Training Wing, as the 97th AMW senior enlisted leaders and first sergeants boarded a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to return home, they reflected on their own experiences when they attended BMT.

“It was a beautiful moment to see these young men and women who are willfully giving their lives in support of our nation,” said Master Sgt. Luis Vasquez, 97th Communications Squadron cyber operations flight chief. “It brought me back to memories of the pride and the strength I felt towards joining the Air Force. I hope that everybody along the trip also got that feeling. We watched men and women give their lives over in support of our nation, just as we have done in our past 15 to 20 years in service.”