Lackland Air Force Base, Texas –
Three brothers from Fort Worth, Texas, will be "doing something amazing" for the Air Force in the coming years after graduation from Basic Military Training Nov. 10.
Twins Chaz and Logan Hatcher, 22, and their younger brother, Derek, 19, completed the 6.5-week course while assigned to three different training squadrons and will be training in three different career fields.
Chaz, from the 331st Training Squadron, will train to become an aircraft loadmaster. Brother Logan in the 324th Training Squadron is going into the avionics field; and Derek, from the 326th Training Squadron, will become a security forces specialist.
All three, however, know they made the right choice of coming into the Air Force.
"The Air Force had some opportunities the other services didn't, like the Community College of the Air Force," said Chaz. "I had some friends in the Air Force who spoke very highly about it."
Logan noted that besides the educational opportunities, travel was one of his goals. "I've lived in Fort Worth my whole life and I wanted to get out and see the world. The Air Force offers a very good chance of that happening. I was working in a dead-end job and I felt like I didn't have any advancement opportunities, which is another reason I joined."
Younger brother Derek echoed the same reasons his brothers had for joining the Air Force - education and travel. "Also, just to be able to say I've been in the Air Force. Not many people get to say that," he said.
Talking about his experience in basic training, Derek noted that the experience is stressful. "One thing that BMT made me realize was how important family is. Before I joined the Air Force, I didn't pay that much attention to my family, which is kind of selfish. When I came here it made me much more disciplined and made me realize how important family is."
He's looking forward to the possibilities of a career in law enforcement, possibly even as an FBI agent.
Chaz noted that basic training is very, very stressful, but fun. "During zero week you're thinking, 'what did I get myself into'. Then you start to get the hang of things, it starts to become fun. You get to know your wingman and you all pull together - you become a flight. BMT is an experience you'll never forget, but it's something you have to do. I'm glad I did it and I'm also glad it's over."
He's also looking forward to the opportunity of travel that being a loadmaster will provide.
Logan, who graduated as an airman first class, because of his two years of college after graduating from high school, said he "hated" the first couple weeks of basic. "But starting the third week, you get your blues, you start feeling good and you start working as a team. Once you get that down; you start to get more respect and the instructors leave you alone. Once the whole flight learns that, and you start to come together, it becomes really fun. I was in a flight that won honor flight because we learned that pretty quickly."
Asked if he was following his older brothers, Derek said, "I'm trying not to. We're all joining for the same reasons. We were all working dead-end jobs that didn't pay much."
The three brothers, who'd been living together after graduation and working at the same company, said they went to see the recruiter together. Apparently there had been some earlier discussions; they'd talked about joining the Coast Guard together. Derek even researched joining the Navy before coming around to his brothers' way of thinking.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to their decision was talking with their peers. They also did a lot of on-line research before joining.
While neither of their parents had any military experience, both of their grandfathers did serve in the military. Their maternal grandfather had served in the Navy during World War II and their paternal grandfather served in both the Navy and Air Force.
"Our grandfather served on the USS Bunker Hill during the war," Chaz noted. The ship, an aircraft carrier, was attacked by two suicide bombers and the grandfather was trapped in a room below decks for several hours.
While the ship survived the May 1945 attack during the invasion of Okinawa, some 346 men were killed, 43 were listed as missing and 264 were injured.
Their stepfather also served in the Army National Guard, having seen action during Operation Desert Storm.
Their parents and step parents, who were all on hand for graduation at Lackland, said they were very proud of their sons.
The boys' mother, Linda Gelski, who lives in Holbrook, Ariz., said she was a little surprised by the decision on the Air Force, "they'd been talking about joining the Coast Guard."
Danny Hatcher, father of the three boys who lives in Fort Worth, said he was somewhat surprised by the boys' decision to join the Air Force because of all the earlier talk of joining the Coast Guard. "I was tickled to death over it when they told me they joined," he said. "They called me after they signed the papers."
Step-mom Linda Hatcher said she thought the educational opportunities was a good thing for the boys and "they needed a little extra motivation."
The only concern for the boys was expressed by Mrs. Gelski who said, "because of the timing and what's going on in our world today, yes I'm concerned, but I'm very proud of them and I'm very supportive of them."
All three brothers are thinking about an Air Force career, but wouldn't commit after just completing basic training. Derek noted that his training instructor explained that "basic training wasn't what military life is like - people yelling at you all the time -- it's much different."