Active to Reserve, Airmen share total force experiences

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Bradley Tipton
  • 927th Air Refueling Wing

Capt. Kierstin Flores, 927th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft maintenance operations officer, knew she wanted to be part of the Air Force from a young age.

After graduating high school early, she persuaded her parents to sign a waiver allowing her to enlist at 17 years old. Throughout her career, Flores has worked with numerous units in a variety of positions, experiencing the depth of the total force.

“All of my assignments were great,” said Flores, reflecting on her experiences. “From pharmacy operations to cargo loading, passenger terminal and ultimately maintenance officer…I even joined the Army National Guard for two years as a transportation officer.”

After an initial eight years on active duty, Flores first entered the Reserve world as an IMA to accelerate completion of her master’s degree. She went back to active duty for a three-year period at MacDill Air Force Base before landing in her current position as an Active Reserve Technician.

“There are so many challenges on active duty especially for a single mother that I decided to go back to the Reserve for the flexibility,” said Flores. “As an ART, we have very flexible hours. It allows me to spend more time with my child, advance my career, and further my education.”

Having been part of the 6th Air Refueling Wing, Flores is familiar with the active duty environment, and uses her experiences to foster total force integration. Considering it to be a priority, she spends as much time as possible mentoring Traditional Reservists and teaching them how to operate in a joint environment.

“I was on active duty here [At MacDill] so I know who I need to talk to and how to get things done,” said Flores. “Relationships are the most important thing in maintenance. Every person has a place so you must learn their strengths and weaknesses.”

Having garnered experiences from throughout the Air Force, Flores hopes one day to have the opportunity to teach at the Squadron Officer School. Her knowledge of the total force and effective leadership is something she hopes to spread to many Air Force leaders as possible.

(This story is part 1 of 3)