current Air Battle Manager
How did you get involved in ROTC?
While I was on my mission I decided I wanted to join the Air Force. I was interested in starting a family, so that ruled out the Air Force Academy. I interviewed at U of U, but they had a small Detachment, and I was interested getting a rated slot so I needed to be competitive. It didn’t take long to find out that BYU had one of the top Dets in the nation. I found out that I received a scholarship from the Air Force, but it was a few days after deadline for admission, and I didn’t want to apply without knowing I’d gotten the scholarship. I called the Det soon after, and the Commandant of Cadets at the time said he would speak with admissions about accepting a late application. I got my acceptance letter before any of my friends!
Where did you see your career going when you were a cadet?
While all I had to go off of was the generic and confusing description of an Air Battle Manager off the USAF website, it seemed like an interesting job and it was my goal from the start. I was interested in flying, but I didn’t want to be a pilot or navigator. This seemed like the perfect fit. I hoped to fly on the AWACS, and eventually get overseas and go TDY to fun places. I wanted a full experience, and I wanted to be tactically relevant to the Air Force.
Has it followed that path? How or how not?
Surprisingly yes. I tracked to AWACS out of Tyndall, and have been TDY to places such as Malibu, Pensacola, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Curacao, Japan, Thailand etc.
What is your current assignment in the Air Force? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it?
I am currently stationed in Spangdahlem, Germany. However, I am presently deployed to Southwest Asia, and when I return to Germany our SQ is moving to Aviano, Italy shortly thereafter.
I am on a ground assignment on this tour, which means that I am not flying while I am here. I still maintain my active flight status, but I do my job from the ground version of the AWACS. Some of the pros are getting to work with far more enlisted folks than in a traditional flying SQ. You really get to develop leadership and mentorship skills, and discover your own style. The downside here is the deployment schedule. Six months deployed, one year home, six months deployed. Rinse and repeat. Of my three year tour, I will be deployed for a third of it.
How did ROTC prepare you for your current job?
I think the best thing ROTC did for me was instill an attention to detail, and a sense of professional bearing. If you can’t manage the small stuff, the big things will crush you. You will find being professional is always the right answer, and being on top of the details separates you from your peers.
What advice do you have for future/current cadets as they pursue careers in the military?
I decided early on that family was more important to me than career. That doesn’t mean you cannot be successful in both realms. But make sure you understand your priorities, and work toward them. Work smarter, not longer. Utilize your time to maximize your efforts. If you stay until 2100 every night, eventually you will burn out. Success is about balance, and you control more of that than you think.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The Air Force can be great, and it can be difficult. I like to say there are three types of days in the Air Force:
-- I can’t believe they’re paying me to do this!
-- They aren’t paying me enough to do this.
-- At least I’m getting paid to do this.
I hope that the first type of day is the most common for you, but realize the second type will happen plenty, and the third type may be the most prevalent of all- and that’s still not bad. Have fun and appreciate the good times, there’ll be lots of them!