JOINT-BASE SAN ANTONIO-Randolph, Texas – Many people who have never been there think Laughlin Air Force Base, in Del Rio, Texas, is too close to the edge of the earth. But one citizen Airman and his family are living their best life in Del Rio and they don’t have plans to move anytime soon.
Lt. Col. Brian Boettger, 96th Flying Training Squadron, has 16 years of active duty service, but serving as a Citizen Airmen instructor pilot at Laughlin AFB for the past two-plus years has been his favorite job, by far.
In part, he said, it’s the job itself - he believes the best job in the world is teaching Air Force pilot training. In part, though it’s because Reserve service is about living a balanced, quality life, and it’s also because of the people in the Del Rio community.
Boettger, his wife and their three kids have embraced the community and all it offers.
“This is a family place,” he said. “There are so many activities for kids here, and my kids are very active.”
As sports parents, the colonel and his wife get the kids to a host of activities in the local area and as far away as San Antonio. They’re not just chauffeuring, either. Boettger coaches his kids’ baseball, basketball and soccer teams, and coaches teams they’re not even part of. His 10-year-old is involved in equestrian activities and dance, as well, so mom gets her to the stables, fairgrounds, recitals and more to ensure she is able to develop her skills.
“I guess I’m not entirely sane about coaching,” he said. “We moved here and within a week I was already coaching soccer.”
He chuckles about it, but he’s serious, too.
“Sports are great exercise, and they help people deal with life issues, learn to solve problems, and understand and develop teamwork,” he said. “Every lesson learned playing sports as a kid will help you as an adult.”
Coaching and supporting youth activities is also a great way for military members and families who are new to the area to get to know their neighbors and get involved in the community, and Boettger takes his role as a mentor seriously. He encourages new instructors and students to look for community engagement opportunities and has developed strong relationships with people across base in every career field and unit through their mutual support of their kids’ programs.
“For me, as a Reservist, this is my home. Unlike active duty members, I’m not on a two- to three-year tour before I leave, so investing in the local kids and the community is investing in my town.”
It’s also because he’s a Citizen Airman that he is able to commit time and energy to his family and their variety of activities.
The Bozeman, Montana native loves to fly and loves being an Air Force member, but the high operations tempo, multiple deployments and long days combined to drain the joy from his career. Now, as a T-1 Jayhawk instructor, he is able to fly and serve his country without sacrificing his wife and kids.
“This is really a no-brainer for us. And Del Rio - it’s the best kept secret in the Air Force for families. We’re part of a close community where people care about each other and take care of each other. This is home and we are happy to be part of it.”