Tag Archives: education

An Airman’s Journey from Puerto Rico

By 60th Communications Squadron

Staff Sgt. Richard Rodriguez-Marquez grew up listening to the sound of jets.

Comm squadron

Now an airfield systems technician assigned to the 60th Communications Squadron, Rodriguez-Marquez lived close to Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station in his native Puerto Rico.

His next door neighbor was an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot and Rodriguez-Marquez remembers watching videos of the neighbor’s jet being refueled by KC-10 Extenders. His dreams of becoming a pilot faded while he was a college student, however, and he never thought he might one day be responsible for maintaining the systems pilots rely upon to take off and land safely.

Rodriguez-Marquez’s journey to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., reveals a pattern of overcoming obstacles and challenges. After studying physics and engineering at the University of Puerto Rico with a NASA internship at Lowell Observatory, Ariz., to study binary star systems along the way he began his post-collegiate career as a technician in a pharmaceutical plant. The economy was lagging at the time and he was concerned about layoffs, so he visited a local recruiting station.

There was just one catch. Despite studying English in school, Rodriguez-Marquez spoke little of it. The Navy recruiter offered to send him to school to improve his language skills and then compete for a commission, but his childhood memories of F-16s carried the day. Ignoring the advice of his friends, he enlisted in the Air Force.

Rodriguez-Marquez’s limited English capabilities caught up with him immediately upon reporting to basic training. He recalled an early episode when his military training instructor instructed him to place his satchel under his dining facility chair, only he didn’t understand the English word satchel, so he remained standing at attention until the MTI took it from him and demonstrated.

Later, during combat arms training, Rodriguez-Marquez misunderstood the proper use of the mnemonic for “slap, pull, observe, release, tap, squeeze.” When his weapon jammed, he raised his hand and yelled “sports!” thus earning the instant ire of a combat arms training and maintenance instructor whose surname was also Rodriguez. Looking back at the event now, he laughs a little.

“He told me I was a disgrace to his name,” said Rodriguez-Marquez with a laugh.

Eventually his MTI paired him with a fellow Spanish speaker who was bilingual. This newfound help, coupled with his sheer determination to memorize new English words from his Airman Training Order, enabled him to learn English as a basic trainee.

Rodriguez-Marquez readily admits that physical fitness was not an important part of his pre-Air Force life. Still, he was determined to meet Air Force standards. While running during his final PT test at basic training, he felt a sharp pain in his hip. Determined not to fail, he finished the test with a passing score, but had suffered a broken hip in the process.

Graduating on crutches, he was placed on awaiting further instructions status until he could heal, which meant another four months of life at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, fitting new recruits for shoes and boots. Having joined with an open enlistment, he had no guaranteed job.

He learned the week before leaving Lackland for Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., that he had been selected for the airfield systems career field.

Rodriguez-Marquez takes great pride in being the first member of an accomplished family to serve in the U.S. military. His mother is a math teacher, his father and brother are lawyers and his sister is an art student.

“The Air Force gave me the tools I need to succeed,” he said. “It’s up to me to utilize those tools.”

His positive attitude, which he credits with his employment of Comprehensive Airman Fitness is reflected in his on- and off-duty pursuits. Rodriguez-Marquez remains fit in the physical domain by finding and performing exercises that improve his leg strength and flexibility.

After reinjuring his hip during a squadron physical training run at Peña Adobe Park in Vacaville, he began working out with Airman 1st Class Sony “Hi-Def” Luangphone, a fellow airfield systems technician. Luangphone introduced him to exercises that worked different leg muscles in different ways and now Rodriguez-Marquez has much less difficulty running.

“I want to lead by example,” Rodriguez-Marquez said. “If I can do it, (the Airmen in his shop) can do it.”

Similarly, Rodriguez-Marquez seeks balance in the remaining three CAF domains. In the spiritual domain, he translates sermons at his church from English into Spanish for the benefit of the predominantly Hispanic congregation. He’s also pursuing a master’s degree in theology.

In the social realm, he revels in the diversity he finds within Travis and the camaraderie of other non-native English-speaking Airmen.

“I know they’re dedicated,” he said. “I place trust in them because they also had to overcome adversity to get where they are.”

In the mental domain, he continues focusing on his studies and his language skills.

“My goal is to speak English with no accent,” he said with a smile.

Rodriguez-Marquez credits his wife, Denisse, for helping him stay grounded and well-balanced. The two first met in her native Mexico, where he was a visiting music student during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years of college.

They kept in touch after he returned home and renewed their courtship when her music studies later took her to Puerto Rico. A sheepish grin crosses his face as he relates the story and he admits, “Her English is better than mine.”

One might think having such impressive academic credentials and overcoming so many obstacles might give Rodriguez-Marquez an inflated ego. Despite mentoring the Air Force’s Airfield Systems Airman of the Year for 2013, Airman 1st Class David Holliman, and helping his Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems work center win the 60th MSG’s Team of the Year Award for 2013, he is quick to give the credit to his co-workers.

“I was older than my MTI in basic training,” he said. “I had to learn to be humble and to use the tools the Air Force gave me. I’m happy.”

PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Richard Rodriguez-Marquez, 60th Communications Squadron airfield systems technician, examines a circuit board April 23, 2014, at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Carranza)

Bye-bye Air Force doctrine documents; hello, doctrine website!

By Woody Parramore
LeMay Center

Air Force Doctrine has a new home! All the Air Force Doctrine Documents (AFDD) on the AF e-Publishing website have been rescinded and replaced by the new Air Force doctrine website at http://doctrine.af.mil.

The Air Force Chief of Staff, General Mark A. Welsh III, approved the new website earlier this fall. He reaffirmed, “Our doctrine provides best practices for organizing, planning and employment that, when applied with an Airman’s unique perspective, deliver global airpower.” He encouraged Airmen to “take full advantage of this new tool as we continue to build upon our doctrinal foundation for future Airmen and provide unbeatable air power for America.”

Moving from AFDDs to the website offers several advantages. First, the website has a “wiki-like” feel to it that many Airmen will prefer when researching doctrine. Second, the search function allows viewers to rapidly find a topic, as well as view all references to that topic, throughout AF doctrine. Finally, the doctrine will have greater consistency in ideas and language.

In the past, with over 30 AFDDs, to affect a change across the doctrine library could take several years due to the lengthy revision cycle. This meant some AFDDs had obsolete terms and outdated ideas for far too long. By using a website, the AF can now avoid the inconsistencies and delays by making changes to the building blocks within the website, called doctrine topic modules, rather than revising an entire AFDD.

The website has more than 900 doctrine topic modules (DTM) organized into five core volumes with 29 supporting annexes. The five core volumes are basic doctrine, leadership, command, operations and support. The annexes were derived from rescinded AFDDs with most annexes having the same number as a corresponding joint publication. For example, Annex 3-01, Counterair Operations, relates to Joint Publication 3-01, Countering Air and Missile Threats, and Annex 3-14, Space Operations, relates to Joint Publication 3-14, Space Operations.

The new doctrine website was developed solely by the members of the LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education. Their innovation makes doctrine easier to search and keep current. Go to http://doctrine.af.mil, and check out how easy it is to navigate Air Force doctrine!

‘Rebluing’: Why do we say that?

Airman Leadership School photoBy Chief Master Sgt. Donald Felch
I.G. Brown Training and Education Center

Shortly after its birth as a separate service, American Airmen have worn the color blue.

Blue represents the sky above earth; a medium the Air Force first aimed to conquer. Blue in our uniforms, in our shield and in our official symbol is also commonly connected to loyalty and courage. Airmen have shown loyalty and courage in every significant conflict since the dawn of flight and continue doing so today.

Air Force blue begins entering our lives in basic military training. We learn about being Airmen. We share common experiences, learn attention to detail and become eager to dedicate ourselves to the mission. We are forged in the furnaces before proceeding to technical training where we learn a skill. Our instructors teach us the professional standards we need to follow in our specific career fields. Here, we are shaped and polished. When we report to our first assignment we are “blue”. Our blue is strong, straight and true. We have become weapons of our nation — weapons of the highest quality and accuracy.

As we go about our daily lives, on and off duty, in and out of uniform, we face challenges, weather storms, experience occasional failures and meet with other forms of adversity. We listen to others complain. We grow tired of facing the same obstacles at every turn. Sometimes we run across situations we haven’t been trained to handle and get discouraged. Since we are human, these things can wear away at our blue. They can make us dull. As with any weapon or tool, constant use without periodic maintenance can lower effectiveness. Airmen are no different.

Bluing is a process often used by gun manufacturers, gunsmiths and gun owners to improve the cosmetic appearance of, and provide corrosion resistance to, firearms, according to Walter J. Howe in his 1946 book, “Professional Gunsmithing”. All blued parts still need to be properly oiled to prevent rust.

Professional military education is a rebluing process for Airmen.

In the course of our studies, activities and even social events, we improve our cosmetic appearance — reminding one another about the proper wear of the uniform and the importance of a professional image. We obtain corrosion resistance as we discuss the core values and the noncommissioned officer and senior NCO responsibilities. We reaffirm our collective dedication to professional standards. This reaffirmation defends us from cynicism, negative thoughts and griping. Just as it does with worn firearms, our rebluing process returns us to the highest quality and accuracy.

In Air Force PME, the rebluing process serves exactly the same purpose it serves with any worn weapon. It improves cosmetic appearance, prevents corrosion and improves overall functionality.

When America takes up arms to defend herself against those who would destroy our way of life, her aim is straight and true because as Airmen, we remain blue.

PHOTO: Master Sgt. Tiffany Bettisworth, Airman Leadership School commandant, evaluates students during a drill ceremony March 7, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Bettisworth directs the five week-long professional military education program designed to develop Airmen into effective front-line supervisors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Hughes)

Keys to Success

by CMSAF James A. Roy
Exclusive for Air Force Live

Over the last three and a half years, many Airmen have asked me for tips to success in the Air Force. As I prepared for retirement, I compiled a list of a few things I think Airmen can do to achieve success.

1. Be great at what you do.
A young Airman’s most important task is to become proficient in his or her primary duty. Work toward being an expert in your field. You have to know your job inside and out to know how it could be done better. As we trade size for quality in our Air Force, we will need innovative subject matter experts more than ever.

2. Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can.
Get outside your comfort zone and learn something new every chance you get. Approach every opportunity with an open mind, and trust the senior NCOs and officers who may see things in you that you don’t see. Apply for special duties, volunteer for leadership roles and seek education opportunities.

3. Be a bold leader.
Define success for the Airmen you supervise. Provide the resources they need and hold them accountable for achieving it. Deliver the required, appropriate feedback, and listen closely to your Airmen when they talk. What do they want? What do they need? How can you help? Tactfully and respectfully stand up for what’s right.

Hard to believe these simple things are the keys to success? It’s true. In the future, our Air Force will rely even more on Airmen to be great at what they do, to take on new challenges, and to accept increased leadership responsibilities.

I know you are up to the challenge.

Thank you for your service.


CMSAF James A. Roy
16th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

Through Airmen’s Eyes: Cadet candidate overcomes adversity, October 12, 2012


Cadet Candidate William Roe

By Amber Baillie
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

(This feature is part of the “Through Airmen’s Eyes” series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

Home has never been where 18-year old William Roe’s heart is.

A cadet candidate at the Academy’s Preparatory School, Roe hopes to one day be an officer in the Air Force and has found his key strength through his education to get where he is today: from being hungry and living out of his mother’s car at age six to being a step away from attending one of the most prestigious institutions in the nation, the Air Force Academy.

Originally from Robinson, Texas, Roe grew up in a low-income household amid continual drug abuse and hardship.

“Over the course of my life, my family hadn’t done a whole lot to contribute to society in a positive way,” Roe said. “My dad went to prison, my mom tried to overdose a handful of times, and my brothers got in a lot of trouble.”

When Roe was just an infant, his father manufactured methamphetamine in their home. The house was eventually raided, and his father was sent to jail, leaving Roe, his mother and siblings on their own.

“My mom had a really hard time supporting us,” Roe said. “I can remember times when she would put us in the car and tell us we were going somewhere, drive until we fell asleep and then we’d wake up in the car the next morning. I guess she just didn’t have the heart to tell us that we didn’t have anywhere to go.”

At age 12, Roe began work for a local landscaping company to help pay the family’s bills and set aside money for when he wanted to purchase things such as school pictures, yearbooks or field trips.

“I’m not going to say it was an enjoyable experience, but now that I’m older and not doing it anymore I’m pretty proud of it,” Roe said. “If I hadn’t gone through some of things I went through as a kid, I don’t think I would have the level of maturity and mental toughness that I have today.”

Roe said he doesn’t remember a time when his family wasn’t on food stamps, welfare or unemployment. He said there were several occasions where he and his brothers were separated from their mother and sent to live with distant relatives because they didn’t have a place to sleep.

By age 15, Roe decided to no longer live at home, often times sleeping in the locker room at his high school, staying with friends or sleeping in the car he purchased after working a full-time job for eight months.

“A lot of people when they think homeless, they think of standing on the street corner with a cardboard sign, and that wasn’t the situation at all,” Roe said. “I was always welcome to come home, but it wasn’t an environment where I could focus on my studies and not get into trouble.”

Roe’s brothers had all dropped out of school and became addicted to drugs.

“I saw my brothers get in trouble with drugs, dealing and fighting,” Roe said. “I love my brothers, but as I got older, I realized that I wanted to be better and didn’t want to follow in their footsteps.”

Roe said he didn’t always eat, especially the nights he slept in the locker room. He would skip dinner and wait until the next morning for his free breakfast at school.

“Kids would anonymously leave me food. I never felt bad accepting it because it’s nice to know whether you talk about your life or not, people are willing to look after you,” Roe said.

At age 16, Roe lived with his grandmother for a short period of time and faced further hardship when she was instantly killed in a car accident he witnessed on his way to her house.

“After the accident, I happened to be driving on the highway and recognized her truck,” Roe said. “Being the one who lived with her and being close to the accident, I had to inform everyone what had happened. It’s hard when you have to tell your mother that her mother had passed away over something so spontaneous.”

Despite not always having a home, food or family members who cared about him, Roe said he always looked toward the future and found motivation and support through individuals and activities at school.

“School was the one place I was really comfortable,” Roe said. “I had a great network of friends. I couldn’t imagine being in this position if I hadn’t gone to Robinson High School. The staff members went above and beyond to make sure I was successful and a lot of them gave me a place to stay.”

Roe was the vice president of his senior class, a leader in National Honor Society, and homecoming king. He volunteered regularly to help tutor kids.

“I made an effort to become best friends with the people that I wanted to model my life after,” Roe said. “I’ve aimed high in everything that I do so that one day, when I have my own family, I can provide for them and my kids will never have to go through the same things I went through.”

Roe also participated in sports: football, power-lifting, cross-country, track and soccer.

“I actually got recognized for doing the most sports in high school,” Roe said. “It was constructive, a huge stress reliever and helped me get my mind off my family.”

Upon high school graduation, Roe received a full-ride scholarship from Texas A&M as well as a $20,000 scholarship from the Horatio Alger Scholar Foundation. Through the foundation, Roe took a trip to Washington, D.C., and met influential figures such as Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas and actor Rob Lowe.

“I was one of 104 selected from 50,000 applicants,” Roe said. “I met these incredible people and we had a formal induction ceremony inside the Supreme Court building. When the scholars walked down the aisle among all of these successful people who came from similar backgrounds as us and were successful, had respect for us and shook our hands when we walked passed them, that was the most incredible moment of my entire life. So far nothing has compared to that.”

Roe said he applied to the Academy because he appreciates the structure of the military and thinks he could use his leadership potential if he became a second lieutenant.

“The more I looked into it, the more I wanted to be a part of the Air Force,” Roe said. “I’m attracted to the wingman concept and appreciate that everyone is held to a higher standard and responsible for their actions. If they act out, they’ll be punished for it. I love that aspect.”

Although Roe wasn’t accepted into the Academy, he said he chose to spend a year at the Prep School because he knew he would receive solid preparation to lead men and women if he were to become an officer.

“There were thousands of people who competed just for a spot in the Prep School and only 240 people got in,” Roe said. “I wasn’t a recruit, my ACT scores weren’t very high but I got here on my ability to overcome adversity. I now have my own bed, get to shower every night and I don’t have to worry about my clothes not looking as nice as everyone else’s because we’re all in uniform. Every day I wake up and think about how awesome this opportunity is and I’m extremely grateful to be here.”

Roe came to Colorado Springs not knowing a single person until he stepped off the plane and was approached by a complete stranger at the airport.

“This woman approached me and started to ask me questions,” Roe said. “I didn’t want to tell her much because I didn’t know her but she proceeded to tell me that she was a sponsor for two cadets at the Academy.”

Roe said she offered him a place to stay for the night but he initially declined. He said it wasn’t until she mentioned what she was cooking for dinner that evening that made him change his mind.

“I was extremely hungry and I honestly knew I probably wouldn’t be able to eat that night because I didn’t have enough money,” Roe said. “I went home with her and the steak fajitas turned out to be terrific.”

It was then when Roe found his sponsor family: Col. Rob Widmann, retired Lt. Col. Ida Widmann and their two sons, Robert and Alex.

“Not only was I able to eat that night but I was blessed enough to have met her and now I have people who are willing to look out for me,” Roe said.

Roe plays on the Prep School’s soccer team and said as much as he would love to play for the Academy someday, only time will tell.

“I wanted to play soccer my whole life and can recall being seven, eight and nine years old asking if I could join the team and my parents would never let me,” Roe said. “That’s why I only played in high school. I would definitely like to join the track team at the Academy and would probably participate in long jump, high jump or triple jump.”

Roe said it will be the hardest yet most fantastic decision of his life when he is forced to choose whether to pursue the Academy or attend Texas A&M at the end of the year.

Photo: Cadet Candidate William Roe said he is determined to make it work at the Academy. “I’ve been given this great opportunity,” the Air Force Academy Preparatory School student said Oct. 3, 2012. “If I mess up, I have nothing.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Carol Lawrence)