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You only get one first assignment

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

I was anxious to begin my official acclimation to my first base. Brand new to the operational Air Force, I was full of excitement and ready to learn what MacDill had in store for me. 

As I walked into the First Term Airman Course classroom, the smell of coffee wafted through the air. Seventeen Airmen just like me milled around the classroom looking for their name tag.


I enjoyed meeting new people from all over who are in the same position as myself, brand new to the Air Force and fresh out of training. It was interesting to learn not only about everyone’s experiences in the Air Force so far, but their backgrounds as well.


It was a relief to be in the same class as Airman Jonathan Taylor, an entry controller with the 6th Security Forces Squadron; we were side-by-side through most of Basic Military Training.

The course was useful in providing all of us with everything we need to know about MacDill. I think it’s good for us to know what resources around base are here for our benefit. I enjoyed all the guest speakers, such as wing commander, Col. April Vogel, and Chief Master Sgt. Sarah Sparks, command chief of the 6th Air Mobility Wing. For such important leaders of the base to take time out of their day to welcome new Airmen shows the level of dedication they have towards inspiring the future of the Air Force. 

The course officially concluded with the class taking an incentive flight on a KC-135 Stratotanker to promote mission awareness. I boarded the tanker with excitement, knowing that at any point we could be greeted by passing fighter aircraft awaiting fuel.

When the boom operator brought us one-by-one to view the refueling in action, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve seen photographs and videos before, but to actually witness an F-22A Raptor fly up and watch the boom operator make sure everything lined up perfectly, was surreal.

Laying down next to the boom operator and gazing at the 5th Generation Fighter below, I felt a feeling of clarity rush through my mind. I was staring at the exact reason I joined the Air Force--to gain life experiences that I wouldn’t ever have the opportunity see in the civilian world.


I believe FTAC is a great first step for Airmen transitioning into the operational Air Force. Everything we learned and the connections we made with each other in those five days will help us through this first-base journey.