KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Mississippi —
The 403 Wing Development and Training Flight exists to prepare trainees for basic military training, introduce them to the combat rhythm of a unit training assembly, and educate them on life in the Army Reserve. Air Force general as they wait for their BMT ship date.
As the new Director of the Development and Training Flight Program, Master Sgt. Hector Rodriguez is responsible for guiding these future Airmen through instruction as well as taking care of staff duties.
“I applied for this position because my passion is investing time and leadership in promising young Airmen,” Rodriguez said. “I want Airmen and trainees to know the opportunities available to them and how to get the most out of their experience in the Air Force Reserve.”
Rodriguez, who enlisted in 2014 as an aerospace propulsion technician, spent time on a development flight at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., where he said he learned a lot about the Air Force, which motivated him to go through basic and technical school training.
“I’m a first-generation military in my family, so I didn’t know anything about the military when I joined,” he said. “The senior staff sergeant at the time. Takesha Williams, who was running the program in Little Rock at the time, really taught us a lot beyond the program’s basic training curriculum and it stuck with me.
As a program manager, during UTA weekends, Rodriguez coordinates various necessary briefings and classes, conducts mock fitness tests, and provides fundamental instructions that trainees will need for basic training, such as movements frontally, the rank and structure of the Air Force.
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,” Piefer said. “I feel much more prepared for basic training with the knowledge than he and (Master Sgt. Kenneth Veazey, former program manager) provided during these three months.”
As for the week, Rodriguez handles the exit and entry of trainees headed into basic training or Airmen returning to begin their careers in the Air Force Reserve. This includes reviewing travel and payroll documents, reducing orders and managing a program ensuring all other relevant documents are completed correctly.
“Those first few weekends leading the flight myself have gone extremely well,” Rodriguez said. “My interns were constantly on the move or studying. Over time, I’ll be able to better establish my own combat rhythm, but these first few have been encouraging, and I’m excited for this opportunity to lead the future of 403 Wing.