Monthly Archives: April 2012

Touring AHE

New to Aim High Erin?  I put together a screencast this evening that will tour you through this site and all of the related social media sites.  Learn how to get the most out of AHE, so that you can be knowledgeable, empowered, and motivated to succeed in your Air Force career!

BMT: Military Bearing

I received a great question today from a reader who wanted me to explain military bearing.  Military bearing is a phrase I drop around here quite frequently, but haven’t ever described it in detail.  Forgive me, readers, let me tell you more!

Military bearing in the operational Air Force boils down to professionalism and the way in which you conduct and compose yourself, especially while in uniform.  A fantastic phrase used to describe military bearing stressed “decorum and discipline.”  As a member of the United States Air Force, you serve as a representative of our great branch of service.  Whether you’re on duty or off, people will judge you based upon your behavior.  I’m not a total party pooper, but your reputation as an Airman is a precious thing, not to be tarnished.  Be mindful of your actions, as you never know when you’re being observed.

Military bearing will get hammered into you at BMT, where it takes a slightly different tone than the one presented above.  When you read “military bearing,” think “poker face.”  Military bearing is the ability to remain composed despite the circumstance – not showing any emotions (especially disappointment in yourself or fear), not reacting to sounds or commotion around you, and staying on point.  While marching, military bearing is staring straight ahead with a closed mouth/straight lips, etc.  Military bearing is standing at attention and not crying or shaking when an MTI is yelling at you.  Military bearing is professionalism and the lack of emotions in most instances.  You’ll gain military bearing just as the weeks pass, since it takes a little getting used to if you’re a more emotional person.

The sooner you solidify your military bearing, the better.  MTIs work at “breaking you down,” seeing if they can get you to crack while trying to hold your military bearing.  If they succeed, they will continue to hound you.  If they realize they can’t get to you, can’t upset you, then they’ll leave you alone (for the most part).  Developing military bearing while at BMT is a survival tactic – the sooner you start exercising self-discipline and discipline of emotions, the greater your chance of survival.

It’s going to be a challenge at first, but you will get through it and you’ll emerge a confident, self-assured Airman!  My husband always wondered how I’d do, since I cry fairly easily, but I was able to pull it off and let myself shine at BMT.  I only ended up crying once that I remember, but that’s a story for another day!  😉

Milbloggies: Last Day to Vote!

This is it, folks, the final hour!  Voting for the Milbloggies close tonight at 5 PM PST/8 PM EST.  If you haven’t already and you’re moved to do so, please give Aim High Erin some love under the “Best U.S. Air Force Blog” category.  You can vote once on all devices – computers, smart phones, and tablets.  Registration on the website is not required and it literally takes two seconds to complete.  You don’t even have to vote in all of the categories.

Need some recommendations for other categories?  I’ll be supporting my friend John of Vintage Engineer Boots in the Marine Corps category and Natalia of Army of Two in the Army category.  In the Navy category I’m excited about Feminine Fatigues, a new(er) blog that I found thanks to the Milbloggies.  As for the other categories, I’m undecided or with preference.  The Military Spouse category is always a tough one for me, since there’s so many talented writers in there. 

BMT: End Of Course Test

The End of Course (EOC) test is the final written evaluation of all of your education and training at BMT, which is concentrated on War Skills and Military Studies (WSMS).  The classroom training is what you’ll be assessed on, not the practical, hands-on training.  That training is assessed through your performance at BEAST.

The EOC is taken during your 7WOT.  We took ours on Friday, one of the days where we were wearing our blues.  It was a proud moment to walk into there and take that test, knowing that we were days away from graduation.  Testing security is very strict for the EOC, so prior to testing you’ll get the speech about not cheating, not disclosing questions on the EOC, etc.  It is a Scantron test, so you’ll find out the results fairly quickly after you complete the test.  Any trainees that fail the test will be informed ASAP, but more on that later.

The EOC only covers material presented in the BMTSG, and only certain chapters in the BMTSG.  This is the Air Force – work smarter, not harder.  Make sure you study only the necessary chapters in preparation for the EOC.  There is so much information in the BMTSG – almost six hundred pages – so you can’t possibly study it all.  Out of fifty-eight chapters in the BMTSG, thirty-two of them address topics presented on the EOC.  Do yourself a favor early on and bookmark, tab, or highlight these chapters, so you know which to study for.  Each chapter has a series of review questions at the end of it.  Make sure to study those in depth, and skim/review the chapters as best as you can.

The EOC has one hundred questions and is a closed book, multiple choice test.  If you’re shooting to be an Honor Graduate, you have to score at least a 90% on the test.  Any less than that and you can count yourself out of the running.  Per the BMTSG, if you fail the EOC you’ll re-test using a different version of the test.  You must achieve a 70% to pass the EOC.

For those of you who aren’t good test takers, don’t start stressing yourselves out.  You’ll have mandatory study time in the dorm, where you’ll have a thirty minute chunk of time blocked off (almost daily) to review your BMTSG.  When you’re at the mini-mall, you can pick up some study materials/supplies, such as highlighters or index cards.  If you need a study buddy or tips while you’re down there, you can consult with your Academic Monitor for advice and encouragement.  

Buckle down, trainees, and good luck on your EOC!  The toughest part is staying awake in class!  

BMT: The Airman’s Run

The Airman’s Run is the first event of graduation weekend at BMT, and therefore the first time your family will see you and you’ll “see” them.  Why the quotation marks?  That’s because you’re not supposed to break military bearing and look at them, but I digress!  

The Airman’s Run takes place on the street behind the Reception Center.  See those covered pavilions in the picture to the left?  That’s the You won’t eat the morning of the Airman’s Run, but you’ll have a snack when you return from the run (as described in the Your squadron commander will come out to the field to greet your flights, as they’ll be running right in front of you.  Finally, you’ll all line up on the street and you’ll take off!  You won’t hear much of an announcement, you’ll just start seeing everyone take off, singing jodies (cadences).  You’ll be organized by squadron and you’ll run with your brother/sister flight.  The guidon bearers will be running with the guidon the entire time, holding it at a diagonal.  The sort of running you’ll do is called “Double Time,” and it’s pretty slow.  The Airman’s Run is about 2 to 3 miles, if that, and you have to maintain DCID (“Dress, Cover, Interval, Distance”) with relationship to other trainees while you do so.  Being at the back of the flight can prove to be really difficult during this process, since you’ll rubber band back and forth, especially around corners.  If you watch the YouTube video below, you’ll see that it’s not pretty at times!  You’ll do jodies throughout the run and your MTIs will encourage you to really sound off during this process to please your commander.  Other MTIs from your squadron will also join you, as well as your First Sergeant.  They’ll wear squadron t-shirts as well, but while yours are cotton, theirs are a technical fabric.

Hitting the top of the bridge on the run is the best, because you can see all of the families and loved ones ready, waiting, and cheering below.  Your MTI will lead jodies and your squadron chant the entire time.  Other MTIs may step in for him/her, as his/her voice goes hoarse.  Amongst all of the other flights, it will be very hard to hear.  Being in the very back, I couldn’t hear my MTI at all.  All I heard was my brother flight’s MTI behind me, and you’ll be doing different jodies than them.  I felt horrible, since I wanted to sound off nice and loud, especially as the Dorm Chief, but I couldn’t hear at all.  When we were practicing our run, one of the MTIs called me out on it and I had to let him know that it was impossible to hear.  During the actual Airman’s Run, I tried to mouth the words as best as possible when I couldn’t here.  What else can you do?

You’ll run to the end of the street, make a left, u-turn, and head right back on up and over the bridge.  It’s an easy run and you’ll be pumped from the energy of the crowd.  Our MTIs stressed to us that we’d better not scan the crowd, look around (versus straight ahead), and/or wave or do something stupid when we passed our family/loved ones.  It’s hard, I know, but try to be discreet if you sneak a peek.  I managed to spot my dad pretty easily on the side lines.  🙂

After the Airman’s run, you’ll march back to your squadron and prepare for Retreat!

Tips for Visitors
Prior to the Airman’s Run, inform your families about the color of your squadron shirt, so they can be on the lookout.  If you have a general idea of what side of the flight you’ll be on, give your families the heads up if you can.  It’ll be easiest for student leaders and the guidon bearer, since their positions are consistent.  If your loved ones make a sign, tell them about Build-A-Sign, where they can get a free, high-quality 3′ by 6′ vinyl banner.  All you have to do is pay for shipping and any upgrades you may want (such as the grommets, which I recommend).  They’re a great company and I’ve ordered three over the years for various homecomings of DH’s. 

[All photos courtesy of J. Boone Pooler Photography.]

Milbloggies are GO!

Here we go, everyone!  Voting for the Milbloggies has officially begun!  I can’t begin to tell you how quick and easy the process is, and voting closes this Friday, April 20th, at 8:00 PM EST.  

You don’t have to register for the site, leave your email, none of that stuff!  You don’t even have to vote in all of the categories if you don’t want to.  

Just check out THIS LINK and make your selections.  Obviously, I would love you to vote for Aim High Erin under the Best U.S. Air Force Blog category!  🙂

Thanks again for your continued support of this website and all that I do!

BMT: Retreat

This is it!  Retreat, sometimes known as the “coin ceremony,” is when you’ll officially become an Airman and receive your

[Source: C. Christeson]

The flights are lined up in numerical order along the street, prepared to march onto the retreat pad, moving forward as flights file in.  A blue rope in charge of drill and ceremony will call each flight in.  Retreat is both a graduation ceremony of sorts, but your flight and your MTI are still being evaluated for how you execute all of the drill movements.  As you approach the turn into the retreat pad, your MTI will request permission from the blue rope to enter the retreat pad.  Each flight files in and immediately begins the ceremony.  Regardless of how many flights are on the pad, you will all conduct retreat individually – it is not done as a huge group.

The Dorm Chief plays an integral role in Retreat, commanding the flight in the beginning, as the MTI picks up the coin tray from the front of the ceremony.  The DC will receive this tray from the MTI and follow him/her throughout the flight as he presents a coin to each trainee.  The guidon bearer is the first to receive a coin and the DC is the last.  The MTI will take a coin from the tray and say a few words to the trainee.  You’ll shake with the right hand and take your coin with the left hand.  The MTI will side step down the line, speaking with everyone.  When s/he reaches the end of the element, the element leader will command the element to take one step forward.  This allows the MTI to walk down the next element and repeat the process.  S/he will snake down the elements until everyone receives their coin.  The DC is the last person to receive their coin, after which they hand the tray off to a blue rope waiting nearby, and fall back into the flight.  The flight will either remain standing at attention or be commanding to parade rest, depending on the weather.

[Source: C. Christeson]

After everyone has received their coin, the commander will say some brief words.  You won’t even remember them, at least I don’t, because you’re so pumped at that point.  Finally, the ceremony will come to a close and the families will be invited to come onto the pad and find their new Airman.  This is what many families (especially those active on AF WingMoms) refer to time for the tap out.  You’ll stand at attention until your family comes to you and greets/hugs/jumps on you (briefly).  You’re not dismissed until someone dismisses you.  [Read more about PDA rules in my post about Reuniting at Graduation.]

Retreat happens really quickly, much faster than I assumed it would.  Blink and it’s over!  That being said, if you’re at Lackland during the summer it gets hot really quickly out there.  I remember my feet burning in my shoes standing on the concrete for that long.  I had lovely sweat stains for the occasion, since at BMT females don’t wear undershirts or camisoles under their blues shirts.  The MTIs are very contentious that this ceremony is notorious for bringing Airmen to their knees – literally.  Trainees faint during Retreat quite frequently, and the blue ropes are prepared to catch people.  We were instructed to take a knee if we thought we felt faint.  So many trainees are so determined to tough it out and look sharp that they lock their knees and pass out.  Definitely not what anyone wants to do as they become an Airman in front of their entire cheering section of friends and family!  You’re also instructed to maintain strict military bearing, despite the fact that your loved ones may be steps away from you.  No crying when you spot your family, not even your kids.  You can’t react to them, and your MTI will hammer that into you.

Once it’s all said and done, you’ll be released to your family for base liberty for the duration of the day, up until curfew at 8:00 PM.  You can go [almost] anywhere on base that you’d like, including to base lodging if your family is staying there and you’ve informed your MTI in advance.

Congratulations and Welcome to the World’s Greatest Air Force!

[Yes, that’s yours truly in the second and third photos, as well as in the YT video, doing my Dorm Chiefly duties.]

Milbloggie Announcement and Introduction

Fantastic news this evening, to cap off a long UTA weekend!  

March 2012
My name is Erin and I’m a proud Air Force Reservist.  My journey to military service came later in life, the realization of a dream and a goal for myself.  I’ve made it, I’ve achieved, and I’m thriving!  

In my civilian life, I’m a special education math teacher at the high school level.  I’ve been in the field of special education for eight years now, and I love what I do.  I often hear from others, “Oh, I could never teach high school!”  I love my students, they make the job, which is 100% about relationship building, especially in special education.  My long term goal is to get my Ph.D. and teach either at the collegiate level or be a director of special education for a school district.

I am half of a dual military couple.  My husband (referred to as DH on the blog) is a prior service Marine, Soldier, and now an Airman himself.  I couldn’t be prouder of his service and the fact that we are each other’s support systems.  He joined the Army a year and a half after we first got together, so I’ve been with him through numerous separations (training, overseas tours, a deployment, etc).  This blog initially started as a milspouse blog, but evolved as I took on my own military career.  

I spent my summer vacation completing Basic Military Training (BMT) and the Personnel Apprentice Course for the Air Force, making the transformation from civilian to military service member at the age of 30.  I’ve had more than my fair share of successes and moments of glory, and I look forward to a distinguished career because that’s what I intend to make of it.  I believe whole-heartedly in the mission and what I’m doing, even as a junior enlisted member.  I know that my efforts pay off, and that my sacrifices are worth it.  I am always striving for excellence in both my military and civilian careers.

Aim High Erin evolved as I started sharing my stories from BMT and tech school.  As a teacher, sharing my insights came naturally to me.  I want to see others succeed.  That’s what I do.  The blog became less about my personal life, although I will do a post of that nature once a week or so, and more about educating those who are considering enlistment in the Air Force or those who already know they’re heading off to BMT and want to prepare accordingly.  I understand that your experience and the experiences of others may differ, but I firmly believe that knowledge is power.  I don’t claim to know everything, and I will never give you deliberately incorrect information.  I have no problems admitting when I’m stumped – I’m still learning too!  I invite you to read about what I’ve been through and encourage you to seek out the stories of others.

Thank you for stopping by my area of the blogiverse, I’m happy to have you here!  Don’t hesitate to reach out, as that’s what the Wingman Concept is all about!

Get Connected

Heading to BMT? – A list of the BMT-specific posts here on the blog, categorized for easy reading.

AHE on Facebook – Notifications of new blog posts, as well as announcements.  Easy way to interact with me or ask a random question that may come up!

@AimHighErinAF on Twitter – Linked to my FB account, my tweets can be both site-related and random, but it still serves as a great way to get a hold of me.

AHE YouTube Channel – Rolling and folding clothes, a sock bun tutorial, and a motivational video.  More to come, as I start dedicating more time to this aspect of the site.

AHE Pinterest – All things Air Force, as well as military resources, charities, and historical items of note.  A visual extension of the site and my list of items to pack.

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters Happy Monday everyone!  I’m not usually overjoyed about a Monday, but this has been a fantastic day!  Share time!

Branch #3, it’s official!

1.  It finally happened!  I got the phone call that DH would be swearing in this afternoon!  If you’ve been following my story of frustration, DH has been trying to switch from the Army Reserve to the Air Force Reserve for months now.  His most recent hang-ups were due to issues at MEPS.  He made multiple trips up to Denver, and ended up doing a stress test (running on the treadmill while hooked up to sensors), which resulted in the verdict of – gasp – he’s healthy and everything’s fine.  The final waiver took a week after that, which brought us to today!  It is such a relief to know that we’ve finally made it through this process.  This is DH’s third branch of service; he truly is my Military Renaissance Man!  [Yes, we seriously talk/joke about him doing every branch.]

2.  Although DH did WLC [Warrior Leadership Course] while he was in the Army, they told him that he would have to do ALS [Airmen Leader School] now that he’s in the AF.  I joked that we could attend together!  Think about how much sense that would make – one room, one mileage reimbursement, etc, for two people!  Makes perfect sense to me!  🙂  He says he doesn’t want to wait that long for my eligibility though – party pooper.    

3.  I have a busy, busy week ahead of me at school, with no rest this weekend since it’s UTA time again.  A couple IEPs to write, a Consumer Math curriculum to research, and a DVR to catch up on.  A girl’s got priorities, folks!

4.  I haven’t done a formal blog post about it, but I’m 40 days away from running my first half marathon.  I need to kick my training up a notch.  I haven’t done nearly as many long runs as I need to be doing.  I’m pretty sure I can pull it off, but I don’t know how pretty it’s going to be in my current state.  Meanwhile, that officer pictured above with DH?  Yeah, he’s about to do his second Boston Marathon.  Talk about “Excellence In All We Do!”

5.  Nominations for Milbloggies opened up this evening and a number of you have already thrown my name in the hat.  Thank you all so much for your vote of confidence and your support of my blog.  That’s why I keep doing what I do, because I know there are people that value and appreciate this information!  Only one nomination is needed, so if you venture over there, consider giving the existing nominations a thumbs up!  Peek through the rest of the nominations – it’s a great way to find new blogs to read! and Milbloggies!

Big day today, readers!  Today marks the opening of the nominations for the Milbloggies, hosted by the folks over at  Nominations open on Monday the 9th and run through Thursday the 12th.  Finalists will be announced on the 15th, and voting will run the 17th through the 20th.  The winner is announced at the MilBlogCon, which is held in DC the weekend of May 11th – 12th.

Why is this important, aside from the obvious bragging rights? is a respected site and database for military blogs.  It’s a cool site if you haven’t been on it already.  If you like reading milblogs, you can find tons on this site, organized by branch of service, military status, location, etc.  You can read posts within the site, or choose to go directly to their sites.  Each site, like mine, has a profile.  You can mark them as a favorite or even write a review.  [If you’re a member, why not favorite me while you’re at it?]

Anyway, I’m hoping for a good showing for AHE this year!  I would love to at least be a finalist in the Best U.S. Air Force Blog category, to help give the site some publicity and connect other potential trainees to everything that I have to offer here.  It only takes one nomination to be considered, and they are requesting that you link to the profile page (like my About AHE page).

If this website has been helpful to you, please consider nominating me!  I’ll keep you posted on the happenings with the Milbloggies!