Maj. Brandon LaValley had a big surprise April 1 and it
wasn’t an April Fool’s Day trick played by the gathering of fellow Airmen from
the AETC, 340th Flying Training Group, 39th Flying Training Squadron, and 435th
Fighter Training Squadron at the 435th’s hangar on Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.
LaValley, an Air Reserve technician and assistant flight
commander, won AETC Flying Training Civilian Instructor of the Year for
Air Reserve technicians are full-time civilian employees who
serve as Air Force Reserve members one weekend each month and two weeks
annually. LaValley, whose Air Force Reserve unit is the 39th FTS and the 340th
FTG, wears a flight suit full time. He is the only ART that flies with the
The soft-spoken instructor pilot, originally from Pryor,
Okla., was entrusted with high-visibility missions like training the Hungarian
air force and a leadership role as a student flight commander in support of his
active duty unit.
“Major LaValley volunteered to be a student flight commander
because he deeply cares about our mission. You can’t buy that kind of
commitment,” said Lt. Col. Mark Schmidt, 435th FTS commander.
LaValley was entrusted with high visibility missions and a
unique leadership role for Reservists throughout the year, and his response
His success rate for on-time graduations, as well as
feedback from his students and peers, consistently placed LaValley at the top.
LaValley was first among 54 instructor pilots in his own 39th FTS and he was
selected as IP of the year.
In 2015, he led a NATO training mission in Hungary that was
credited for achieving the close air support capacity it needed to be a viable
partner in NATO. He went on to teach 12 joint terminal attack controllers
according to standards that allowed their operational support for forces in
LaValley, a 2003 Air Force Academy graduate, applied his
knowledge of adversary tactics to replicate enemy fighters. He led the
development of a fighter training unit capability that tests F-22 pilots from
Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
He continuously shared his skill for resource management to
improve the personal lives of his fellow Airmen. Likewise, he spent time
optimizing the syllabus to improve training flow.
While his pilot and instructor accomplishments are inspiring,
his 2015 professional development session with his wingmen and Bank of America
executives was a keystone event for both Reserve and active duty Air Force,
LaValley and his team of wingmen joined forces with Bank of
America to help pack lunches at the San Antonio Food Bank.
“A lot of children rely on school lunches for their daily
nutritional needs and when school is out, their needs are unfulfilled,”
Their effort broke the single-day food-packing record for
the San Antonio Food Bank. More than 39,000 meals helped more than 3,000
families in San Antonio, LaValley said.
“It was our way of giving back, discreetly,” LaValley said.