JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
Learning the basics of the Air Force is no easy task. Getting yelled at constantly, memorizing Air Force facts, strict attention to detail, and marching around for hours upon hours are all experiences Airmen endure upon crossing into the blue.
These basics are taught to new members of the 459th Air Refueling Wing before they even step on the bus to get basic training.
But teaching those basics? That takes patience and a navy blue campaign hat that makes new Airmen quiver.
Technical Sgt. Matthew Jordan, unit training manager for the 69th Aerial Port Squadron, is a former military training instructor turned reservist. He worked as an MTI at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, Texas, for five years where he trained 25 flights of trainees. He now assists the 459th ARW Development and Training Flight with drill and ceremony procedures.
The DTF is a program where new recruits get a head start on military education before they ship off to basic military training.
“It’s awesome to work with the DTF,” said Jordan. “As an MTI, I would get trainees that were from the Guard or Reserve and ask them if they had been through the program and if they said yes, I would immediately look to them because I wanted them to be in leadership positions; they already have the foundation for success.”
According to Tech. Sgt. Queta Clark, program manager for the 459th ARW DTF, Jordan brings a level of good order and discipline to the trainees.
“He has the training required to do all drill and ceremony movements,” said Clark. “He represents good intimidation by wearing the hat, knows exactly how to instruct the trainees and how to correct them. They respond to him with discipline and respect.”
In his role as UTM, Jordan says the shift from being a drill instructor to someone who manages careers was a smooth transition.
“I am constantly teaching people on how to progress,” said Jordan. “So being an MTI is a perfect transition to a UTM because I am still helping people on how to make themselves better.”
While being a UTM is a good fit for Jordan, he says the new environment is a different kind of challenge.
“Everybody comes to my desk and says I must have so much work to do to manage 200 troops and their training and education,” said Jordan. “I tell them it isn’t that bad. As an MTI, you had 50-60 individuals and they were your sole responsibility for 16-17 hours a day for eight weeks. With that being the expectation there, the environment here is a lot different.”
Since Jordan has joined the Reserve, he is part of a unique aspect of military training. He is now the one helping to prepare Airmen before they get to their MTIs at Lackland. The former drill instructor says this is where it comes full circle.
“I know I’m not just helping the trainees, but also the different units the trainee belongs to,” said Jordan. “Because that trainee is going to have long term success and be prepared and groomed through the whole training period. I am contributing to their MTIs, and they are training the Airmen who will come back to the 459th. The cycle goes on and I get to be part of it.”