KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
The 403rd Wing’s Development and Training Flight exists to prepare trainees for Basic Military Training, introduce them to the battle rhythm of a Unit Training Assembly, and educate them about Air Force Reserve life in general while they await their BMT ship date.
As the new Development and Training Flight Program Manager Master Sgt. Hector Rodriguez is responsible for guiding these future Airmen through instruction as well as taking care of personnel functions.
“I applied for this position because my passion is investing time and leadership in up-and-coming young Airmen,” said Rodriguez. “I want Airmen and trainees to know about the opportunities that are out there and how to make the best of their experience in the Air Force Reserve.”
Rodriguez, who enlisted in 2014 as an aerospace propulsion technician, spent time in a development flight at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., where he said he learned a lot about the Air Force which in turn motivated him to get through basic and technical school training.
“I’m a first-generation military member in my family, so I didn’t know anything about being in the military when I joined,” he said. “Then-Senior Master Sgt. Takesha Williams, who led the program at Little Rock at the time, really taught us a lot beyond the basic training curriculum of the program and that stuck with me.”
As program manager, during UTA weekends, Rodriguez coordinates different necessary briefings and classes, conducts mock physical fitness tests, and provides fundamental instruction the trainees will need in basic training such as facing movements, rank and Air Force structure.
Trainee Blake Piefer, who participated in his third and final UTA weekend in the flight Jan. 7-8, said he found the program very helpful.
“Sergeant Rodriguez has been great so far. He’s a great motivator and a great leader,” said Piefer. “I feel a lot more prepared for basic training with the knowledge that he and (Master Sgt. Kenneth Veazey, former program manager) have provided during these three months.”
As for during the week, Rodriguez handles out-processing and in-processing for trainees headed to basic training or Airmen returning to begin their careers in the Air Force Reserve. This includes reviewing paperwork for travel and pay, cutting orders, and managing a program making sure all other pertinent documents are correctly completed.
“These first weekends leading the flight myself have gone extremely well,” Rodriguez said. “My trainees were constantly on the go or studying. As time goes, I’ll be able to better establish a battle rhythm of my own, but these first ones have been encouraging, and I’m excited for this opportunity to lead the future of the 403rd Wing.”