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Former TI uses knowledge to shape Airmen at Lajes
Master Sgt. Christopher Ramsdell 65th Logistics Readiness Squadron Former Basic Military Training instructor
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Former TI uses knowledge to shape Airmen at Lajes

Posted 11/4/2011   Updated 11/4/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Olufemi Owolabi
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

11/4/2011 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- Going back to Air Force Basic Military Training is not something everybody gets a chance to do often. An Airman here has been there twice after his initial enlistment.

Master Sgt. Christopher Ramsdell, 65th Logistics Readiness Squadron's fuels management flight Superintendent, returned to BMT because of his passion to help make a difference, but this time as an instructor.

According to Ramsdell, after attending BMT as a trainee, he saw the potential in Air Force BMT.

"I like the structure of BMT...a hard-core environment," said Ramsdell. "When I was a young recruit I was impressed by everything the MTIs did. They were intense, professional, energized and dedicated. They can turn a gaggle of unmotivated civilians into a dynamic and cohesive team."

The MTIs ability to transform what once looked like a herd into a disciplined formation attracted Ramsdell to join this team of Air Force trainers.

Ramsdell decided to become an MTI in 1999, and was assigned to the 321st Training Squadron. After spending five years shaping Airmen, Ramsdell took a three-year break.
"The most memorable thing is making a difference in young Americans' lives," Ramsdell said. "I've had trainees in BMT who literally had nothing to go home to. Others had mouths to feed and had lost a home. Some were spoiled brats; they were all the same once they entered my world."

According to him, each time the trainees endured the training to become Airmen, he was always excited. "I'd tell them how proud I was of them, that they succeeded in becoming a member of the most elite team in the world," he added. "And instead of thanking me, I'd tell them that they needed to get out there and pay it forward. Then I chased them onto the bus, and it was time for a new herd."

With these memories Ramsdell needed no encouragement when he returned again to BMT in 2007. After leaving the job this year for an assignment at Lajes, the former MTI is still making a difference and building warrior Airmen.

"I never knew the impact I had on anyone's career until returning to Fuels after leaving the MTI Corps," said Ramsdell. "I had a couple (of Airmen) who are now officers. Five Airmen have informed me they were promoted to senior airman below-the-zone, and they thanked me for all I did for them. I've had four former trainees become MTIs and I've inspired two Fuelies to do so. Upon my return to the MTI Corps for my second tour I ended up teaming with a former dorm chief in one of my flights during my first tour. I was proud to see that he was almost as scary as me."

Apart from being able to help build future Airmen, for Ramsdell the job of a MTI has its personal rewards. The job helps in every aspect of an Airman's career, he said. "I have much experience in time management, team building, dealing with adversity, counseling, leading and motivating Airmen," Ramsdell added. "The activities I performed on a daily basis and the knowledge I gained in various areas, such as dress and appearance, drill and ceremonies, speaking in front of people, and the ability to exploit individuals' talents to form a better cohesive and dynamic team, are instrumental outside of BMT."

To some Ramsdell might not appear as a people person, but his caring attitude definitely surpasses his social outlook. "I care deeply and have a passion to take care of those entrusted to my charge," he said. "They don't just work for me, I work for them. Being a MTI has given me a successful Air Force career that I would not change."

He attributes his success as a MTI to having a can-do attitude and confidence. He also said having a supportive family is another reason for his great TI and military career.

Rising early and arriving home late are some of the things TIs and their family encounter.
But, with wife, Cecilia, Ramsdell had the peace of mind that allowed him to go for a second term as an instructor. Ramsdell credited his wife for bearing the entire burden during his MTI career. "The impact of an MTI duty is immensely tough on a family," he said.

"My wife has compared my duty hours while I was an MTI to that of being deployed," said Ramsdell, who has also deployed multiple times despite his MTI job. "Although she saw me when I came home at night, I barely saw her. I would arrive well past dark, eat, shower, nap and rise while it was still dark and work seven days a week, sometimes months at a time. I heard MTIs say they can't imagine doing the job with a family. What's strange is I couldn't imagine doing it without mine to go home to. I owe at least half of my achieved glory and success to Cecilia Ramsdell."

He has further advice for those aspiring to be a MTI.

"If you do it for the extra pay, a controlled tour in San Antonio, or to be near family or get that special-duty out of the way, you'll most likely regret it," Ramsdell said. "If you have the desire to work with the best across the enlisted corps, do it. Be prepared to dedicate four years of your career to BMT. The future success of the enlisted corps depends on that dedication. If you haven't started a family, wait. If you already have one, sit down with them first because it's a decision all of you must make. The idea is to give it all you've got for four years and move on, with your career and family intact."

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