Monday, March 10, 2014

Orrie returns to basic training

by Pascual Flores
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

3/7/2014 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- As Chief Master Sgt. Louis D. Orrie, Command Chief for the 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., exited the ramp of the C-17 Globemaster III, he was greeted by a shower of water and champagne from family and friends after his symbolic "fini-flight" marking the end of his aviation career Feb. 25, 2014.

"You know that one day you have to stop flying, that one day every aviator has to stop and hang up their helmet and flight-suit for one final time," said Orrie. "You never think about it and before you know it, there it is confronting you, staring you in the face and you can't avoid it."

For Orrie, leaving the direct connection to his aviation career comes with both joy and sorrow as he prepares for his new position as command chief of the 37th Training Wing at Air Education and Training Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

"It's tough ... when I got here in the command chief role, my primary job obviously was not to fly anymore and I was put in an inactive status, so I moved from the world of an active flier at that time," said Orrie. "When I entered the Air Force, I did six years as a maintainer and transitioned into the operational world with a little more than 20 years as an aviator. I know now that I will never be a crewmember again."

Orrie makes up for the lack of flying by serving as the principal senior enlisted advisor to the 305th AMW commander and senior staff. He is responsible for attending to all matters of health, welfare and morale, in addition to advising on the effective utilization, training and professional development of the total enlisted personnel assigned to the wing.

"I've had the opportunity to work with Chief Orrie on many projects affecting our enlisted members such as dorm improvements, Honor Guard manning, recognition programs and Airman Leadership School mentoring to name a few," said Chief Master Sgt. Phillip Robinson, 87th Air Base Wing command chief. "He is a passionate leader who cares about our Airmen."

Leaving the 305th AMW after an 18-month assignment, Orrie assumes the same duty title of command chief for the much larger 37th TRW, the Air Force's largest training wing. The 37th TRW is comprised of six air groups, 21 squadrons, nearly 20 geographically separated unit schools in nine locations throughout the U.S. with 4,000 permanent-party service members, graduating more than 80,000 students annually, including Basic Military Training.

"It's going to be a rewarding task," said Orrie. "About 27 years ago, I walked out of basic training as Airman 1st Class Orrie, and here I am getting ready to go back as the senior enlisted leader."

One of the issues Orrie wants to address there is the need for more personal communication.

"If there is one thing I wish to happen is for more face-to-face communication," said Orrie. "People should sit down with their rate, supervisor, friends, peers or others and talk, not text, not Facebook, not anything like that and make that connection with someone on a more personal level and not the technological level."

One of the main tasks Orrie wants to tackle stems from the recent BMT scandal.

"I want that institution to regain its place where the American populous knows they can send their sons, daughters, grandchildren and there will be no doubt that we will look after them as well, if not better than they do."

Also on Orrie's agenda as the 37th TRW command chief is the implementation of the new transition week that follow immediately after graduating for trainees. While the basic military training curriculum remains the same, it will just occur in seven and a half weeks rather than the current eight and a half weeks with the eighth week focusing on Core Values and preparation that will help set them up for success in their life and military career.

"As our senior enlisted member, our command chief, it is a huge honor for him to be out and fly with our folks and this is a little bit of a bitter sweet day because this means personally for him the end of an era," said Col. Richard Williamson, 305th Air Mobility Wing commander. "It's bitter sweet because he is really going to miss this, but the great thing is he is someone of experience, someone with the operational credibility going to the crucible of basic military training down at Lackland."

For the next two years, Orrie's new assignment to the 37th TRW will be substantially busier and different as he assumes the role as senior enlisted leader of all Airmen in tech training schools and BMT. For Orrie, this is the perfect closing to his Air Force career.

"It is bitter sweet leaving, but if this is my last assignment, I think it is very fitting to end where I had started many years ago," said Orrie.

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