Command Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia, Air Education and Training Command, visited Luke Air Force Base Aug. 1 to attend various mission briefings, visit squadrons and speak with Airmen.
During his visit, Tapia took time to speak and mentor Airmen fresh out of technical school and Airmen getting ready to put on the rank of staff sergeant.
Tapia first spoke with Airman Leadership School students.
“This weekend I want you to think about what you’d really like to get out of Airman Leadership School, whether it’s to make a new friend, be that good supervisor everyone wants to work for, pick up some writing techniques, or get help with your Community College of the Air Force degree classes,” Tapia said. “In AETC we own all professional military education, so it’s very important for me to be here.”
Tapia then asked the class how many felt they had a mentor. A number of students replied they didn’t. In response, Tapia spoke about the Airmen Comprehensive Assessment sheet to help the issue.
The new form helps supervisors get to know their subordinates better.
“As a supervisor you need to have those discussions and know your Airmen,” Tapia said. “That’s what this form does. It pushes you into a position where you know your Airmen. This is about being in the lives of the Airmen you lead every single day.”
After answering questions the ALS students had, Tapia spoke with Airmen in the First Term Airman Center.
“I was excited to have time with you guys,” he said to the students. “I am on a mission to prove to people that our Airmen today are resilient, mission ready and ready to fight tonight, if needed.”
He emphasized the importance of making the right decisions by reminding them of their basic training graduation day.
“Do you remember the way it felt the day you graduated?” Tapia asked the class. “The incredible feeling you had and how proud you and your family were. When you come to the tough crossroads in your life and career, when you have to make tough choices like drinking and driving, smoking spice or whatever else might tempt you, remember what’s at stake.”
No matter what base he’s visiting, one of Tapia’s favorite things to do is visiting with FTAC Airmen.
“I love spending time with FTAC Airmen because they’re so excited to be here and to be part of this team, and I find that really special,” he said. “If you don’t find seeing the faces of young Airmen who are ready to give you everything inspirational, then you’re in the wrong line of business.”
Tapia shared his wisdom regarding success for all Airmen.
“Be the best you can be at whatever it is you do,” he said. “If you take the approach and mindset of, ‘I’m going to do the very best I can,’ then that’s a recipe for success no matter what line of work you’re in.”
For one FTAC Airman, being able to meet and hear from one of the highest enlisted Airmen in the Air Force was the greatest honor.
“The best advice I heard Chief Tapia give was about career progression and how we can benefit ourselves and the Air Force all at the same time,” said Airman 1st Class Joshua Lomax, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-16 armament apprentice. “I was incredibly honored to have someone of his stature come speak to us and am motivated to go to school and get as much knowledge and training as I can during my Air Force career.”