Family-style dinner helps Airmen transition to Air Force life

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — New Team Hill Airmen have a unique opportunity that helps make the transition from technical training to the operational Air Force less difficult.

The First Term Airman’s Center, in partnership with the Air Force Sergeants Association, offers the FTAC a home-cooked meal at the Junior Enlisted Recreation Center on base during each First Term Airman’s Course week.

These monthly dinners began in February 2017 with the purpose of simply providing a home-cooked meal to all the new Airmen arriving at Hill, but it has since turned into a mentoring opportunity and a chance for the Airmen to get to know their leadership in a relaxed, informal environment.

“We want to take care of Airmen, give them a home-cooked meal and connect with them personally,” said Master Sgt. Felipe Mendoza of the 388th Maintenance Squadron and Air Force Sergeant’s Association president. “We ask everyone to be in civilian clothes, so it’s a low-threat opportunity to welcome each of them and their families to the Air Force.”

There are no speeches or briefs at these dinners, but the command chiefs do school the Airmen in a different way.

75th Air Base Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Rodney Koonce shows no mercy at ping pong and 388th Fighter Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Donald Stroud dominates the foosball table.

To date, no chief has lost a match.

Master Sgt. Angelica Ramirez, Team Hill Career Assistance Advisor with the 75th Force Support Squadron said this dinner is unique to Hill Air Force Base, where new Airmen and their families can socialize and make valuable personal contacts.

“Spouses also have the opportunity to talk to other military spouses,” Ramirez said. “It’s like a big family dinner with lots of food, kids running around and a great time overall. And we get to welcome the Airmen to the Air Force family”

Mendoza said he tells every class, it’s probably the only time they’ll get to meet both active duty wing commanders and the command chiefs in this kind of environment, so take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy it.