OTS marks 20,000 COT graduate
By Kelly Deichert, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published March 08, 2012
MAXWELL AIR BASE, Ala. -- The milestone was reached through 15 years of motivation, dedication and perspiration. Nov. 18 when the Officer Training School graduated its 20,000th commissioned officer trainee during a ceremony at Boyd Auditorium.
"As a flight nurse, (Commissioned Officer Training) has made me feel like I am now acculturated as a new Air Force officer and able to function within the military and at my squadron," said 1st Lt. Christopher Hendricks, the 20,000th graduate.
Hendricks serves with the Air National Guard in Cheyenne, Wyo., with the 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and works as an emergency room nurse. He also is a single dad to Kiana, a 10-year-old avid jump roper and reader, and Louka, an 8-year-old who loves football and spiders.
After working with flight nurses and hearing their stories, Hendricks answered the call to serve. "I was unable to serve earlier in my life, but the time was right now. I'm excited, eager, and proud to learn new skills and serve our wounded soldiers," he said.
COT provides nonline officers from the medial, legal and chaplain fields with the skills necessary to perform duties as an Air Force officer.
"The scope of training includes subjects designed to qualify the graduate to adeptly lead a unit of Air Force personnel, understand the principles of Air Force operations and be familiar with Aerospace Expeditionary Force basic deployment skills," said Lt. Col. Mike Tyynismaa, commander of 23rd Training Squadron.
During the five-week program, trainees developed confidence and leadership skills, and applied the concepts learned in the classroom.
"I've gotten over any inhibitions I had about yelling loudly at a large group of people at 0500 in the morning," Hendricks said. He served as athletic officer for class 12-01, which he said taught him lessons in time management, accountability and motivation.
Hendricks said Project X was a highlight, and he developed leadership skills while navigating the obstacle course, scaling walls, shimmying on ropes over pools of water and forming human chains.
"(The tasks) are both physically and mentally very challenging," he said. "They are sort of a deadly puzzle that must be solved under pressure and rather desperately overcome."
Trainees also complete the Wingman Expeditionary Leadership Problems Course and the Leadership Reaction Course to demonstrate adherence to rules of engagement and safety procedures, and apply the problem-solving process and management principles, Tyynismaa said.
"Ultimately, the COT course is structured to develop officers that model the Air Force ideal of a capable officer," he said.