News>Air Force looks to put wings on enlisted retrainees
Story at a Glance
AF looking for retrainees to become career enlisted aviators Airmen can also increase their chances of selection by familiarizing themselves with the retraining advisory New enlisted aviators will be selected from the pool of qualified candidates based on enlisted performance reports
Staff Sgt. Lucas Crumpton waits for the "go" signal before an airborne insertion during Joint Forcible Entry Exercise Sept. 14, 2010, at Pope Air Force Base, N.C. The exercise is a training event held six times a year in order to enhance cohesiveness between the Air Force and Army by executing large scale, heavy equipment and troop movement for real-world contingencies. Crumpton is a C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster with the 535th Airlift Squadron from Hickam Air Force Base, H.I. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelita M. Lawrence)
Staff Sgt. Peter Jensen collects straps that restrained airdrop bundles in the back of a C-17 Globemaster III on Sept 30, 2011. Jensen and the crew of the C-17 air dropped 40 bundles to a remote outpost in Afghanistan. Aerial delivery of critical supplies decreases the total number of resupply convoys conducted in high threat areas. Jensen is a loadmaster assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)
by Senior Airman Christina Brownlow
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
8/14/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- Enlisted Airmen have the opportunity to earn a pair of wings and go fly, fight and win America's wars.
Air Force officials are looking for retrainees to become career enlisted aviators as flight engineers, aircraft loadmasters, flight attendants, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operators.
The duties and responsibilities of these positions call for Airmen to serve as crew members aboard many of the Air Force's aircraft.
"If you really want to travel around the world and see different things, you can do that as a career enlisted aviator," said Master Sgt. Matt Ardis, the career enlisted aviator in-service recruiter at the Pentagon.
For Tech. Sgt. Francis Camejo, who retrained as a C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster in 2009, the best part of being a career enlisted aviator is directly contributing to so many Air Force missions.
"When you airlift over 5 million pounds of cargo and passengers per year without injuries or damage to equipment, you gain a sense of pride in your work," Camejo said.
In more than three years on the job, Camejo, who works with the 15th Airlift Squadron out of Joint Base Charleston, S.C., has participated in missions related to special operations, joint operations and humanitarian cargo deliveries to destinations all over the globe; however, he said he gets the most satisfaction from delivering equipment to troops in combat and when he helps transport Airmen back to the U.S. after a long deployment.
"You immediately see the fruits of your labor through the faces of family members when you bring their loved ones home," he said.
Despite the selling points of being an enlisted aviator, the career fields suffer from manning shortages year after year.
Ardis said there are a few reasons for the shortage. First, the Air Force does not force Airmen or new recruits into flying positions. Second, the standards for becoming a career enlisted aviator are significantly higher than most career fields. Finally, successfully completing formal training can be challenging for some new retrainees.
Ardis said Airmen who are interested in one of these career fields should brush up on the retraining process. Once the process begins, they need to stay on top of it, especially the medical portion, which calls for a flight physical.
"The physical is the long pole in the tent, especially if a waiver is involved," he said.
Airmen can also increase their chances of selection by familiarizing themselves with the retraining advisory, a document that details career field vacancies. Then, they can apply for every position for which they qualify, Ardis said. The advisory can be found on the myPers website.
Airmen who are on their first enlistment can volunteer to retrain through the career Airman re-enlistment reservation system. New enlisted aviators are selected from the pool of qualified candidates based on enlisted performance reports, with the most recent report being the most important. Rank and projected rank are also considered, with higher ranking Airmen more likely to be selected, all else being equal.
Those Airmen who have already completed at least one enlistment term may try to volunteer through the NCO retraining program.
Selected Airmen will attend the 14-day enlisted aircrew fundamentals course at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Upon graduation, they move on to their career field-specific training, survival training and then flight training.
(Tech. Sgt. Shawn J. Jones contributed to this article.)
8/16/2012 5:43:43 PM ET I joined the Air Force back in 98 and came in as a Crew Chief on F-15's and did that for 4 years. At the time I was deciding if I was going to reenlist or get out I was stationed at Edwards. I ran into a Flight Engineer for the CV-22 when It was there for testing and he talked me into the FE career field. Once I got in to the Helicopter Flight Engineer school I was in love. It was the best decision I made. I deployed multiple times doing rescues in some bad locations and was able to help save people during Hurricane Katrina. I've never been part of a better team. The Things We Do That Other May live will always be a part of my life. I saddened the day I found out I was going to be medically retired for Asthma I developed from the Afghan. I will always have my memories of all the things we did to save innocent lives.
Ryan Johnson RET SSgt Flight Engineer CSAR, Chicago Il
8/16/2012 7:56:53 AM ET I don't understand the system of the shortage and the head counts that have been done? I know a young healthy guy who served as a C130 Load Master, served his time in the war zone, caught insefilities which grounded him for more than two years but was about to meet the medical boad for reinstatement of his flight privilages, but his commander choose him in his head count reduction. So his 12 years of service went out the door with no retirement and no appreciation for his service, just don't let the door hit you in the butt attitude from his former commander. After the fact, the AF IG said nothing he could do because he was now out of the service but should have contacted him prior to getting discharged. What a slap in the face for a guy who was following in his Father's foot steps. Makes me wonder what went wrong that caused this guy to foll through the cracks
SNCO Ret 89, Ohio
8/15/2012 7:14:03 PM ET The hurting for aircrew bothers me. I would have gave anything when I needed to retrain to become a loadmaster or boomer. They said no because of my eyesight and I was forced into the field I'm in now. I wish they would at least gave me a chance seeing how they're hurting now.Airmen take advantage of this oppertunity it is one of the most exciting and rewarding opperunities this Great Blue has to offer.
8/15/2012 2:05:05 PM ET I entered the service in Oct 75 and went straight into the Loadmaster career field. Retired in Feb 2000 as a Loadmaster. I loved that job. Challenges abound but rewarding as all get out. The responsibility entrusted me as an 18 yo airmen astonished me at the time. I worked with some of the best people I've ever met. Hard work you are the sweatiest guy on the plain most of the time but it was worth every bit.
Dave Sauccier, Liberty Mo.
8/15/2012 3:28:14 AM ET Please don't forget to mention the aerial gunner career field. Absolutely vital. Some of the most professional Airmen I've ever gone to combat with.
Maj G. Lee, Miami
8/14/2012 9:21:26 PM ET I took the opportunity to become a flight engineer back in 1987. This was probably the best descision that I made short of enlisting in the Air Force in 1980. The wash out rate in tech school is extremely high but if one applies themselves the reward of earning your wings is incredible. Oher than all of the traveling that you'll get to do and the crazy flying schedule you'll face there is a downside to being an aircrew member this is called self-study. In order to be a great aircrew member and earn the respect of those you fly with self-study is a must. Aircraft systems are modified which in turn can and often does change aircraft proceedures. I have never studied so much in my life as I did when I was a flight engineer. But the rewards are many and the memories are ever lsating. Would I put myself through the rigors of 18 months of training again You bet Being an enlisted aircrew member is probably the best if not the best job an enlisted person can have in the Air