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Student Flight Training

Nov. 7, 2009 -- You see them at the 108th Air Refueling Wing building 3324. They stand out from the usual Airmen in ABU or BDU uniforms milling around the Military Personnel Flight office. Aside from the "Air Force" lettering stenciled across their chest on their gray sweat suits, one would think they are just visitors looking around.
On the contrary, these are the future Airmen for the 108th ARW and they are being prepared for their basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
They are taught the Airmen's Creed, Air Force core values, rank structure and some marching face movements, said Master Sgt. Malakatu B. Saleem-Maing, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 108th Student Flight at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
"This training gives them an advantage over their active duty and reserve counterparts," added Saleem-Maing. "When I went through basic training, we didn't have this."
While not officially assigned to a squadron or a wing, these students come to 108th ARW's unit assembly training drills until they are given their ship date to BMT. It is during these weekend drills at which the students begin learning some military bearings that will hopefully prepared them for the hard training they will endure at Lackland AFB, as they get acclimated to the Air Force standards.
In addition to the introduction to military life, the students are evaluated on their physical capabilities, said Saleem-Maing.
The students, lead by a split-option Airmen, are lead through several exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups and jumping jacks. The physical training for the day is finished once the students complete a 1.5-mile run. They are timed and advised on how long it took each one of them to complete the run.
The split-option Airmen are excellent resources for the 108th Student Flight staff, said Saleem-Maing.
Since these Airmen have already completed their basic training and are now waiting for a date to report to their technical school, they are asked to lead the new students, said Saleem-Maing.
In addition to the support from the split-option Airmen, some members within the Flight Students are given leadership roles. Those who show potential leadership qualities are chosen as the Student Flight leaders and are assigned a red or yellow rope, with the red rope being the highest leadership role.
Prepared several months ahead of her scheduled BMT, she hopes to be a role model for her two younger brothers, said Airman 1st Class Lily K. Garcia-Garzon, a member of the 108th Student Flight.
Garcia-Garzon, who resides in Howell, N.J., and originally from Ecuador, joined the Air National Guard for the educational benefits and to apply for her U.S. citizenship. She is currently attending Brookdale Community College at Lincroft, N.J., where she is studying business management.
Her siblings are at an impressionable age, so she is taking this opportunity to show them to be better persons, said Garcia-Garzon.