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334th TRS hosts local youth

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Every day as a training squadron commander is an awesome day! 

Sure, some days can be stressful, but there are always moments that just down right make me proud to be an Airman. As the commander of the 334th Training Squadron “Gators”, I could write about many of these daily events, or "feel good" stories, but for this article I'll focus on just one.

I was recently asked by our Keesler leadership if the Gators would be willing to host a few young adults.  They reside in our community and most are having a difficult time coping for various reasons. Some call these young adults "at-risk youth," but I simply call them our neighbor's sons and daughters. As we all know, growing up can be difficult, and here in the training group, we see this first-hand with our Airman as they adjust to the many requirements of developing into responsible wingmen.

I immediately accepted the opportunity to support our leadership's request; knowing my instructors would embrace the endeavor without hesitation – they always do. The event would have to be held during the instructors’ off-duty time, however always embracing service before self, 10 of our instructors volunteered to host 15 young adults and their church minister, JJ Johnson, a former Keesler instructor. The instructors spent more than two hours demonstrating our state-of-the art air traffic tower and radar simulators. More importantly, they explained in detail how our core value system can be a guiding principle to their personal growth. This was the first time many in the group had ever interacted with those actively wearing the uniform, and hopefully not the last.  

Johnson was thankful his old unit was able to support his diligent effort to mentor the youth in our community. We will host this group in Cody Hall again and the instructor team is already planning to showcase our five other command and control courses. The next visit will include more instructors and our training wing's most important asset – our Airmen in training. Many of our Airmen are teenagers themselves and can easily relate to many of the same issues and challenges experienced by these young adults.

This will connect and engage our newest Airmen with the community, and more importantly, allow them to serve as Air Force role models.  

Seeing my team host and support Johnson and his young adults is yet another daily event that makes me proud to be a Gator and an Airman!