JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Randolph, Texas – Former Marine Corps field radio operator Martin Hernandez, now an Air Force Reserve military training instructor at the 433rd Training Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, was STEP-promoted to master sergeant during an October ceremony at JBSA-Lackland, attended by his MTI teammates and his flight of basic trainees. Stripes for Exceptional Performers (STEP) is a commander's program designed to promote the most deserving Airmen, especially those who face barriers because of a limited number of position vacancies.
The 433rd TRS is one of seven squadrons assigned to the 340th Flying Training Group at JBSA-Randolph, and the only all-Reserve MTI squadron in the Air Force.
"Exceptional is an accurate description for Sergeant Hernandez, who exemplifies desired qualities for members of the profession of arms, and whose character is beyond reproach," said Chief Master Sgt. Tamara Strange, 433rd TRS superintendent.
Hernandez, who served in the Marine Corps for four years, entered the Air Force Reserve immediately upon transitioning from active duty. A civil engineer Airman for half-a-dozen years, he accepted the opportunity to serve as an MTI in 2018.
Determination to achieve his goals is a hallmark evident in his accomplishments, including completion of his master's degree in post-secondary education. He has already established his post-MTI goals: to pursue a commission and a PhD.
Among his various accomplishments, he benchmarked squadron safety program, managed 50 base-level projects, planned and executed a dining facility remodel project, refurbished a warehouse for a squadron training lab, completed academic and hands-on MTI requirements, completed the demanding 90-day MTI task qualification program, guided 20 peers as the technical training class leader (earning the honor graduate award), delivered 160-hour curriculum for five basic training flights, and led 11 officer training school flights COVID-19 operations.
Originally from San Bernardino, Calif., he also coordinated a UCLA veterans outreach program, working with eight community colleges, and providing counseling and support for more than 70 veterans.
"In my civilian life I am dedicated to assisting military-connected students and veterans successfully transition out of the military in order to pursue and succeed in higher education," Hernandez explained. "I recently earned my degree in higher and post-secondary education from Columbia University to work in higher education. I became an MTI because I want to establish a solid foundation for civilians entering the military and do the same for new veterans transitioning back into the civilian sector."
Having a heart for service comes naturally to the senior NCO, who proudly refers to himself as third generation military. One grandfather was a soldier, the other was a Marine, and Hernandez' father was also a Marine.
“Sergeant Hernandez was an obvious choice for a STEP promotion to master sergeant. He not only checked every box for promotion, but he was also already performing at the level of a senior NCO," said Erard. In his two years with the unit he has had a huge impact on both trainees at basic military training and officer trainees at officer training school.”