Dragon Corner

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey McLemore
  • 334th Training Squadron commander
I know what you're saying...Just how many ropes do we have here at Keesler, and what do they all mean? Well, I can tell you that when I first arrived two years ago, it was a bit overwhelming trying to remember what colors there were and what they all stood for. However, the one thing you can be certain of is that each and every one of the ropes worn by the student population and the staff are critical to the success of the training mission.

The most recognizable rope worn by Airmen at Keesler is the dark blue rope. This is the rope earned by those non-commisioned officer's who have undergone the special duty training required to perform the responsibilities of a military training leader. The MTL corps is made up of NCOs and Senior NCOs entrusted with the mentorship and safety of our new Airmen who arrive from Basic Military Training. MTLs maintain discipline in the dormitory living areas, perform room and uniform inspections to ensure military standards are maintained, march, run physical training programs, lead volunteer efforts, oversee drill and ceremony, and do just about everything possible to build the character of our young men and women. Long days and nights are the norm for these hard working leaders of our Airmen. If you ever have a question about our Airmen, just find the nearest blue rope and they will have the answer.

In addition to the rope worn by the MTLs, there are several ropes worn by the non-prior service Airmen who are going through training. There are three leadership ropes and four special volunteer ropes that identify Airmen who are supporting the Keesler mission. Green, yellow and red--that's the progression of the airmen leaders to have greater responsibility and leadership within the training environment. The green ropes are earned by Airmen who exhibit the characteristics that are necessary to become a trusted agent of the MTL. Airmen with a green rope will regularly perform accountability of other Airmen, be placed in charge of details, and act as assistants to the MTLs within the dorm environment. The yellow rope takes a little longer to earn, but will be given a greater deal of responsibility in assisting with troop movements. As you watch formations marching across the base, you will see each element being controlled by a single Airman. The yellow rope corps has the responsibility of accounting for his/her formations, ensuring dress and distance is maintained within the formation and that the formation is utilizing proper cadence and safety while transitioning the base. The last, and most entrusted of the Airmen leader positions, is the Airman wearing the red rope. To earn the red rope an Airman must be of the highest character, epitomize the core values and undergo the training and testing of the 81st Training Group Military Training Office. Airmen wearing the red rope, are in charge of the entire squadron population in the absence of permanent party staff.

The four volunteer service ropes identify those Airmen who are contributing outside of the normal training curriculum. There is a silver and black Rope worn by members of the Keesler Drum and Bugle Corps, a solid white rope worn by Airmen who volunteer their services to the chaplains' assistance program. There is also a solid black rope that members of each squadrons Drill and Ceremony Team earns.

The final of the four volunteer service ropes is the newly approved teal rope worn by members of the base Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team. The teal rope program is a Keesler created program that capitalizes on the high quality Airmen wishing to make a difference in the fight to stop sexual assaults in the Air Force. Although they are not victim advocates, the Airmen wearing a teal rope are trained to provide other Airmen with the tools necessary to report and help prevent issues surrounding sexual assault.

As you can see, there are truly only eight different colors of ropes worn by Airmen at Keesler. Each takes a special caliber of Airman to perform these duties and each contribute greatly to the Keesler and Air Force mission.