by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
109th AW Public Affairs
5/20/2015 - STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- The
109th Airlift Wing Student Flight program recently saw some big
changes, including more structure, more physical training and more
guidance - all to better prepare trainees for their first step in
becoming an Airman at Basic Military Training.
At the behest of Chief Master Sgt. Amy Giaquinto, 109th Airlift Wing
command chief, the Chief's Council, along with Force Support Squadron
leadership, assessed the program and found that many trainees were
leaving for Basic Military Training not as prepared as they should have
The chiefs worked closely with Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Archibald,
Base Training Manager, who oversees the program, in creating a more
structured program with the primary goal to "ensure 100-percent
graduation rate at BMT," said Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Princiotto of
the 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron. The program is now structured to
follow basic training as much as possible with physical training,
terminology, structure, scheduling and memory work. It also includes
four phases, from the first for the newest trainees, to the fourth for
those Airmen who have graduated Basic Military Training but are waiting
to go to technical school, also called a "break in training."
"It's better that they're doing it this way now," said Airman 1st Class
Gregory Discipio who is currently in Phase 4 of the program. He
graduated basic training in September, and once he completes technical
school, will be part of the Services Flight. "If you're in break in
training, it helps to stay in that mentality."
"The training they receive is really dependent on the trainee to learn,"
said Master Sgt. Garrett Cowsert, student flight cadre. "We go over
some basic information like reporting statements and the basics of
facing movements, but push hard for them to learn a lot of memory work.
We educate them about their PT responsibilities and do PT, but
encourage them to be proactive on their own the other 28 days out the
month until we see them again."
The flight now has cadre working with them every Unit Training
Assembly. Along with the team of three cadre, is a chief who acts as a
"liaison for the Student Flight and the cadre and the rest of the wing
to remove any roadblocks," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Schaible, 109th
Logistics Readiness Squadron, who is the current chief assigned to the
flight. The goal will be for each team to work in six-month rotations.
They needed a strong group for the first team of cadre, and reached out
to Cowsert, who had been a cadre with Student Flight years before;
Master Sgt. Marlene Frankovic, who had served as a first sergeant; and
Tech. Sgt. Michael Crouse, a former full-time Stratton Base Honor Guard
"The cadre are a good balance," said Trainee James McPartlin who has
been in the flight for seven months and is set to leave for basic
training in July. "They're tough on us when they need to be, but they're
also not overbearing. I think I'll be genuinely ready for basic
"Even though we are hard on them, they get it," said Crouse of the
trainees. "We're setting them up for success. It's not personal. We're
not yelling at them because we don't like them, we're just trying to set
a foundation so they can maximize their success."
It may be a little too early to tell how successful the program will be
for basic training since it's so new, but the cadre said they are
already receiving positive feedback from the trainees. Crouse also said
the flight's camaraderie among each other is great. "They really help
each other out; we're teaching them to be good wingmen, and most of them
already have been," he said.
Cowsert said the success of the program is dependent on the support of all of those within the wing.
"This program will only continue to grow with the support and dedication
of those of us here at the 109th who want to help develop professional
Airmen and get involved," he said. "We need our First Six to help come
and teach some of the education pieces that are being built into the
program; we need our senior noncommissioned officers to become cadre and
use their time and unique experiences to help mentor the trainees."
"It is the perfect time to breathe new life into the Student Flight
program with the release of the Air National Guard Ancillary Training
Program," said Giaquinto. "Student Flight members are a part of this
wing, and they deserve to be set up for success as they start their
military career. With this new program, they are going to get just