As you may have suspected last week, I was shocked when, in addition to my own OJT program, I looked at the maintenance training program I’d been ordered to take over for our squadron and two small satellite bases. Never had I seen such angry inspection reports!
I’d been called up to the commander’s office and told I was to take over maintenance training and get it running the way my OJT program was running. I’d also been told that even though I was only a five-stripe tech sergeant I was to ignore the seven-stripe senior master sergeant in my new five-man office.
“You will report directly to me,” the squadron commander had told me.
Fair enough, but before I could fix anything I had to find out what was broken. So into the office files I went.
Oh, my God!
One, they constantly failed to get important reports done correctly or on time. Two, they had no way of keeping track of anything. Three, if any actual training was getting done they were very good at hiding it.
So, first things first: Get some training going.
We had an FTD, or field training detachment, on the base. FTDs are made up of highly competent technicians who have attended an air training command school and have learned how to teach. Assigned to a base FTD, they teach young technicians the complexities of the specific aircraft located on that base.
How many classes had our men attended at the FTD? Virtually none! So, putting first things first, I soon had men in FTD classes dealing with the engine, airframe, weapons system, electronics, hydraulics, and everything else on our F-101s.
Naturally, I got complaints at first because the classes drew men away from the flightline. However, after just two months, when the NCOs on the flightline discovered that their men now knew what the hell they were doing and could get the job done, the complaints quit.
I also sent one of my men out to scrounge up some one-and-half-inch-wide and three-foot-long plexiglass strips which we used to create a wall-size chart. We wrote the names of our trainees on them in grease pencil and used them to keep track of who had finished training on what by moving them from one part of the chart to another. That way, it only took a glance to see who needed what type of training.
Bingo! Nothing was ever forgotten or went undone, including reports. I did some other things, but they were things any sensible NCO would have done, so there’s no need to go into them.
To make a long story short, five months later during the air defense command annual inspection the bird colonel heading the inspection: (a) shook my hand, (b) said that we had the finest training program he had ever seen, and (c) recommended me for an Air Force commendation medal and immediate promotion to master sergeant.
So I pinned on a medal and a new stripe, was transferred to the air training command and spent my last eight years in the Air Force traveling around teaching other people how to run training programs.
But what, after all, had I really done?
The regulations and manuals told me what to do, and the FTD did most of the training. All I did was use the tools that existed.
Isn’t that all it takes to get most jobs done?