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During tech school, I became what we called a “rope.” A rope was like a hall monitor of sorts. We were entrusted with enforcing minor laws in the day room, around the barracks, and we were also tasked with getting the flight to and from classes at tech school.
There were different ropes for different levels of responsibility and some specialized jobs. My time at tech school was fairly short, so I only attained a green rope. This put me in charge of a specific group of airmen in my particular dorm. There are many stories I could share about my brief time as a student leader, but today I want to talk about marching the flight to and from school.
So as a fitness instructor, I’ve encountered what it feels like to be new, to walk into a room full of people, and then to blow it. I’ve had classes where I knew as I was performing the job that I was sucking real bad. Marching a flight was no different in the beginning. The first time I tried to march a large flight, I botched it really back. I was supposed to get them moving and then across the street. I didn’t get the road guards out quickly enough, and I didn’t get them turning on the right foot.
The easiest way to create a parallel is driving a car. If you are trying to parallel park, and you make the wrong move or go to far, etc, you have to reset and do it again. Well, that’s what happened to me when marching my flight for the first time. My training instructor saw how badly I fucked up and he took over. He recovered from my mess and got everyone back to the dorms safely.
In hindsight, it’s not that it was hard, I think I was just nervous and under a lot of pressure. I didn’t feel like I was ready to start marching them as I never practiced. However, I learned under fire and pressure. The next time I took over the marching I got it right, my confidence was higher because I had already experienced the worst case scenario. From that point forward I got really good at it.
I recall that on the way to tech school we’d have to march through the flight line were all the jets were, and those things were damn loud. In order to be heard, you’d have to hit a strange pitch and key. There was no way that any of us could scream louder than a freaking jet, but you could hit a pitch that was heard through the flight line noise. I learned the perfect pitch that was distinguishable over the loud planes to keep the flight going and in step.
By the end of tech school, I was an expert and on my way to getting a yellow rope. They didn’t promote me because I was leaving, but I knew that if I remained, I’d have gotten the yellow and then red rope, it was just a matter of time. My training instructors loved me and my eagerness to perform at a high level. I thrived in the military. I do miss those days, I had a good time in tech school and part of that fun was marching the flight.