Class in session: McChord's 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 12, teaches C-17 Globemaster III maintenance to Airmen around world

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • Staff writer
Teaching is something every instructor and supervisor in the 373rd Training Squadron,
Detachment 12, takes very seriously. After all, the consequences of the squadron's
students not knowing how to do the job correctly can have disastrous results. 

"We're talking about [the loss of] lives and millions of dollars worth of equipment," said 373rd TRS detachment chief Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Levesque. 

For that reason, the entire squadron is immersed in a university-like environment every day. From the high-tech classrooms with monitors and computers at each desk and a smart board at each podium to the giant rooms with 11 life-size trainers (exact cutout sections of the C-17 Globemaster III), the squadron embraces several different teaching methods to instruct Airmen coming out of tech school, those transitioning to working on C-17s from a different aircraft and servicemembers from other countries who work on C-17s in their country's fleet. 

The teaching is accomplished through formal lectures, written progress checks and then hands on work on the maintenance training devices, Sergeant Levesque said. 

And due to the close working relationship the squadron has with the 62nd Maintenance Group, students and instructors even bring students out to the flightline and integrate course training objectives into real-world task accomplishments, he said. 

Each of the squadron's hand-picked instructors is encouraged to weave personal experiences, the Air Force's core values and proper safety techniques into the classroom and simulator training for each four-person class, Sergeant Levesque said. 

"By sharing knowledge and experiences with the students, the instructors are giving back and helping to shape the new generation of combat airlifters," he said. 

The focus throughout is always on making sure everyone is communicating and learning. 

"There isn't a time pressure like out on the flightline," Sergeant Levesque said. "We have no excuse to rush in here. [Our instructors] don't press on with any other topics until everyone understands." 

And the students -- who receive Community College of the Air Force credits for the courses -- aren't the only ones benefiting from the learning environment. 

Each of the squadron's 28 instructors have associate's degrees, six have bachelor's degrees, 17 are enrolled in bachelor's and two are enrolled in master's degree programs, Sergeant Levesque said. 

For Tech. Sgt. Brendan Hilton, an instructor who entered into the four-year controlled tour at the 373rd TRS, Det. 12, from the 62nd Maintenance Squadron, teaching has been a very rewarding experience, he said. Sergeant Hilton decided to make the move because he wanted to become a better public speaker. 

"It's been leaps and bounds more than what I expected coming in," he said. "I now have an advanced technical knowledge of the C-17 and I'm not intimidated when it comes to public speaking, no matter who I'm speaking to." 

The satisfaction that comes with teaching has been the biggest bonus for instructor Staff Sgt. Philip Wiese, 373rd TRS, Det. 12, who previously worked at the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. 

"It's a good opportunity to train other guys and show them how to do things right," Sergeant Wiese said. "Sometimes when you use your background knowledge to fall back on when you're teaching -- it's neat to see that light bulb go off in their head when they understand."