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Retirees recalled to training base

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Collen McGee
  • 433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Todd Worley and Robert Shelly hadn't seen each other in about ten years. Both are retired Air Force Master Sergeants. They met up again at the 2009 Air Force Push-Pull exercise on Lackland AFB. The Air Force used the exercise to test its ability to recall retirees to active duty should it ever have to. The 141 retirees used the time to catch up on changes to the Air Force since they retired, and to get reacquainted with one or two people they once served with. 

Each retiree was a volunteer. Several months prior to the exercise, the Air Force sent letters to Airmen who had retired within the previous six month to three year window.  They were invited to participate in the recall test. Those interested in volunteering had to be prepared to meet Air Force standards and complete an application.  Once the volunteers were chosen, they mustered at the training base meeting all regulations. 
For more than a few, that meant shaving post-retirement beards and getting haircuts.
The retirees reported to Lackland on Monday and, for a week, slept in training barracks, ate at a dining facility, took direction from military training instructors, walked to appointments and classes and learned what the Air Force is teaching trainees these days. 

"I thought this would be a good chance to see what's going on," said Maj. (ret.) Kevin Benedict, who retired about 2 ½ years ago. Since then, basic training increased from six weeks to 8½ giving more time to teach war fighting skills to new Airmen. 

Many of the participants remarked on how well the trainees displayed military discipline and how the time with basic weapons training and war fighting skills paid off. In fact, two current trainees demonstrated their skills by stripping down and reassembling an M-16 in about a minute. 

Maybe the most noticeable change for many was the change from the Battle Dress Uniform to the Airman Battle Uniform. But, some changes are not visible to those outside the current service. 

Capt. Patricia Shelly, who is currently serving with the Defense Language Institute at the San Antonio base, commented on her husband's recall experience.  "I was excited about him coming back to see what has changed in the Air Force, for example the uniforms.  He also learned about the online services now available on the AFPC (Air Force Personnel Center) website, " she said. 

The recalled retirees were not the only ones to learn something. The Reserve Military Training Instructors coordinating the trainees' actions learned something about the past. 

"One retiree, an MTI, was my first BMT Section Supervisor, and I truly respected this MTI," said Senior Master Sgt. Julie Begley, Military Training Instructor, "It was fun to hear the stories of her MTI." 

Not only did the participants learn about each other, they learned a little more about the Air Force and the Total Force concept. 

"When the retirees heard that the MTI cadre was Reserve, they were surprised," Sergeant Begley said. "The retirees shared their stories of being deployed with reservists during the Gulf War ... that it was great working with reservists." 

The Push-Pull exercise was a reflection of today's operating tempo and total force cooperation in getting the mission accomplished. 

"There were military and civilians, active duty and Reserve, Air Education and Training Command and Air Staff. All of us had to come together and get the job done," said Sergeant Begley. "It took a tremendous amount of teamwork and confidence that everyone would pull their weight." 

The event was a success in more than testing the logistics and application of a recall. Many of the participating retirees went home and started sharing their impressions from the week 

"I believed he came home feeling even more proud to have served in our military," said Captain Shelly about her husband. "He is also spreading his thoughts about how great it was when he was in and how great the Air Force is changing to meet tomorrow's needs." 

A few of the retirees wanted to be a part of the changes in the Air Force. Retired Sergeant Shelly, a former MTI, is one of several who said he plans to look into the Reserve program.