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Cover Story
Beginning My Air Force Career
by Jeff Appleby

I'm Jeffrey Appleby, 23 years old and beginning my Air Force career. I decided to join the United States Air Force after getting tired of working dead end and seasonal jobs. So I went to my local recruiter's office and started the application process.

This process involved taking the ASVAB test, filling out a lot of paperwork, and going to MEPS. MEPS is the military processing center where I went through interviews, physicals, and other various tests. When I was accepted, I was sworn into the Delayed Enlisted Program (“DEP”), and this was my status until I shipped to Basic Military Training (“BMT”). While in DEP, I had to attend monthly meetings and could volunteer to help out with local air shows and other Air Force events.

I was in DEP for about two months when I was notified about my new job and ship date. On 11 March 2009 around 9 p.m. I arrived at the San Antonio, Texas airport. After waiting for the bus for about an hour I was on my way to Lackland Air Force Base. This is when I started to get nervous about BMT. Until this time I hadn't worried about going to BMT, but now there was no turning back.

I arrived at Lackland AFB around 11 p.m. and this is when I was assigned to a group with some other trainees (a flight) and started my long inprocessing. After hours of processing, my flight was put on a bus and sent to our new squadron.

When we arrived at the squadron, we were greeted by a Military Training Instructor (“MTI”). This is when everything really started as we were told we had only a matter of seconds to get 53 trainees off the bus. Then we went to the dormitory for some briefings and were assigned beds. Finally, the first night ended around 1 a.m. That morning at around 4 a.m. we met our MTI.

The first week of training starts the breakdown from civilian life to military life. It seemed as though I could never do anything right the first week. After the first week, the next seven and a half weeks got easier each week.

While at BMT, I learned a lot about myself. Although I was busy with a wide range of activities, it seems that any spare time I had I was thinking about family and friends.

During my 8 and a half weeks in BMT, I was on a strict schedule. Every morning I woke up at 0445 and started physical training by 0515, followed by breakfast and whatever was planned for the day.

Activities included classes, simulated scenarios, appointments and various other activities. One of my favorite things was the obstacle course. Although parts were hard and potentially wet, I had fun. My favorite part of BMT was BEAST week. This is a week of a simulated deployment environment. It taught us vital teamwork and situations when deployed. Although wearing battle rattle and chemical gear is hot and heavy, it puts a perspective on what the United States Armed Forces are going through right now to defend our country. We had to sleep in a tent city, eat MREs (meals ready to eat), and learn a lot of vital deployment information.

Even though I had some fun times at BMT, I was very nervous most of the time. It was a good thing since it kept me out of trouble. I was taught that integrity is one of the most important characteristics for any person. The fact is that if you don't do the right thing all the time, it doesn't just affect you but everybody around you. It happens a lot in BMT where one person gets in trouble and so does everybody else. This is the best thing I learned from my MTI.

I've been taught a lot of useful information and seen different perspectives, which I believe has made me a better person. I'm very thankful for my MTI and all the time she spent teaching me what I needed to start my military career.

When I got my dress uniform I felt proud; at this point because of everything I had worked so hard for I had finally earned the uniform. 7 May 2009 was one of the best days of my life when I transformed from trainee to Airman. This was also the first day I got to see my family again. The next day was the greatest day of my life when I graduated from BMT. The day that was so far away 8 and a half weeks ago was finally here. I got to march down the bombrun as my dad did before me and as every Airman has done to graduate BMT. The rest of the weekend I got to hang out with my family.

11 May 2009 is when I left Lackland AFB for Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas for the beginning of technical school. Technical school should be a lot better than BMT because I will slowly gain my freedom back. I will only be there for about nine weeks and then I will be part of the operational United States Air Force.

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