- Education and Science
Air Force Tech School at Lackland
Lackland Air Force Base Tech School
After basic military training, you'll be shipped off to your tech school. That location will be dependent on your specific career field, but contracting specialists (6C0X1) will be leaving their BMT dorms and going around the corner to the 344th training squadron. You'll be shacked up with a few other career fields, mainly flyers, and probably run into some security forces and material management personnel.
The flyers consist of (but aren't limited to) boom operators, loadmasters, and other air crew. I'm not positive of all of the AFSCs (jobs) that are there, but you'll meet a variety of people in a vast assortment of jobs.
The First Morning
After your last night at BMT, you'll hop on a bus and drive essentially around a corner where they'll split everybody up by career field. Then they'll take you to your respective squadron, which I believe are only a few. Security forces and Aircrew/Contracting/Material Management are fairly close together. They take the PJ's (Parajumpers/Pararescue) over to another squadron and TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) to another. I have no clue what they do over there, but you'll see them running around being awesome. The PJ's I met were actually really down to Earth people. TACP guys were, uh, different. That's all I'll say about that.
Anyway, you'll move over to your squadron and sit through a briefing where you'll get your room key and dorm assignment. Yes, you'll share a room with another person, maybe even 2, but more than likely you'll only have one. You may get lucky and get a room to yourself, but that's doubtful. Your first morning consists of unpacking all of your stuff and briefings. You'll be told to meet up in a certain area every morning. All the new people will line up in formation at this area for a week or 2, and eventually you'll be let out with the 500 or so other people in the squadron to mingle after class every day.
The first week you will be briefed to death about semi-important and semi-stupid stuff. The one thing they really drill in to you is DO NOT DRINK UNDER AGE. I cannot stress this enough. It is a huge deal to drink under age in the Air Force as well as providing to minors. After two weeks of being in tech school, if you pass your dorm inspections and your open ranks, you will get more freedom. You'll be allowed to wear your civilian clothes, and you'll be able to drink. There were multiple nights where security forces were running throughout the squadron, wrangling up drunken, under age airmen. I had no problem with this, as I was of age, but it was extremely irritating to have to attend briefings about drunken teenagers, when I followed the rules. On top of all of this, they can and they will lock down the squadron for severe offenses. This means that for the actions of a few stupid people, an entire squadron will suffer. Lock down means you have to line up for accountability every 3 hours. Accountability takes about 45 minutes of them calling out every airman's name in the squadron. This means you have 2 hours and 15 minutes of freedom before you have to line up again. It sucks badly.
Your first week consists of doing details (chores) which aren't too hard. I believe I only did details for 2 days, because the other 3 days were full of briefs. Picking up garbage, cleaning the dog kennels, or cleaning the dorms. It's nothing that's too demanding, and you're usually done before everyone gets out of class, so that's nice. The weekends are yours. The first two weekends that you are there, you'll have to be back at 11 PM, but after that, you can be out as long as you'd like.
After your initial orientation into tech school, life gets a bit better. It's basically college, except you march to class. Honestly, I hate marching, but you do it twice a day (and maybe to lunch), and it's a lot more tolerable than BMT marching.
Every morning, you'll wake up as usual. Mondays, Wednesday, and Friday were PT days. You woke up and had to be lined up at 5 AM for PT. It was usually short, easy stuff, like running around for a half hour, or simple push ups and sit ups. I think I had 2 pretty rough PT days, but all in all it was simple. After PT, you go back to your dorm, shave, and get ready for your duty day.
After PT you'll go back outside and line up to march over to class. It's about a 5 minute march, and then you break apart to class. You'll get into your class and be introduced to your instructor, which, finally, you have a NCO (staff sergeant or higher ranked) person who is not screaming at you like at BMT. Besides that, it's your job to now learn your job.
Contracting was about 8 weeks long. It's nice to have a short tech school, because while you have more freedom than BMT, there's still some restrictions. Maybe other bases have less strict schools, but as far as Lackland goes, it's not bad so long as you're not a dirt bag. Your duty day is essentially from 0500 until 1630. After that, your day belongs to you. If you buy internet in the dorms (yes, you'll have to and it sucks), you can hang out in there. But my advice would be to get out and enjoy the people. Once you get to your first duty station, the atmosphere changes. I miss hanging out with all of my tech school friends, and I don't regret anything about meeting all of the people I met there.
Other Things to Know
If you've ever read about tech school, there's a few standard things. There's a rope system, which means that there are a few Airmen who have a rope around their shoulder which shows some sort of leadership role. A green rope is the lowest on the totem pole, but tend to be a bit more awesome than the other ropes. The yellow ropes are a step above them, and a red rope or two at the top. To really be honest, I have no idea what these people do except make announcements for the MTLs and march people around. Every one of them that I met was pretty cool, but I've heard of horror stories of people abusing whatever power they have. There are also white ropes, who work with the base chapel, and black ropes, who just do marching stuff. I was never interested in being any sort of rope, but I can see the appeal in it. It gives you the opportunity to meet more people, and help them in some ways.
You'll be eating in a dining facility (DFAC) which is actually kind of good. I liked BMT food better, and Lackland's food was good, much better than my current duty station, so cherish it while you have it. A note, though- if you're in contracting, you'll learn this pretty quick, but the people who work in the DFAC all have some sort of disability. That's how those contracts are fulfilled, so don't be shocked. A lot of them, you can't even tell they have one. And that goes for every DFAC in the Air Force. And, yes, obviously you'll eat for free. And you will continue to eat for free unless you get married and move off base, or hit Senior Airman and move off base at your next duty station.
Another thing you may want to look into, there is a car rental place at the main BX on base. Instead of getting a taxi to San Antonio, you should probably just rent a car for the weekend with a group of people. That'll help save some money, because taxi's are ridiculously expensive. A car is about $50 a weekend. If you want to party, there's lots of places to go to. There's a place right next to the bowling alley, I forget it's name, but a lot of younger folks went there. I used to go to the Pizza Hut right off base. I know, it sounds stupid, but some of the best nights happened at that place. There's a bar connected to it, and it's within walking distance to the base, in case you didn't want to get a car for the week ends. I honestly consider checking it out. Something for the younger people to consider, is hookah. There's a hookah bar right off base as well, which was always packed and reasonably priced. I recommend that as well, especially if you've never been to a hookah bar before.
The last thing I'd like to discuss is relationships. I'd like to say something completely different than what I'm about to but it's the truth. If you are in a relationship going into the Air Force, it probably won't last through tech school. I've never in my life have had women throw themselves at me the way they did in tech school, and most either had a boyfriend, were engaged, or married. In the military, it is AGAINST THE LAW to commit adultery. While I never engaged in it, the opportunity was there. My advice to men would be this: Be careful with who you mess with, it can get you in trouble. Ladies, have some self respect. And, I'm sure others will tell you this, don't marry the first person you find, which I witnessed. I'm not saying don't have fun, I'm just saying just because you've gotten your freedom back, don't throw yourself around.
That being said, enjoy your tech school experience. I had the time of my life, and if I could go back, I would. The Air Force will be what you make of it. Enjoy it, and make the most of it.