The UTA weekend

  • Published
  • By Col. Robert Buchanan
  • 44th Fighter Group
As I was driving back from leave Tuesday, I stopped at the I-54 U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint and got a long stare from the officer on duty. I was in disguise-civilian clothes and a week's worth of beard-when the officer finally said, "Hey sir, how's it going?" As the officer took off his hat and glasses, I recognized a Traditional Reservist master sergeant from the 44th Fighter Group.

During our Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training at the last Unit Training Assembly, another Traditional Reservist gave important insights into the minds of sexual predators. How would an F-22 Raptor crew chief have these insights? His full-time employment is as a detention officer in El Paso, Texas.

Most members of Team Holloman interact with reservists every day and may not even know it. But once a month, the number of reservists at Holloman swells as we perform our UTA weekend. We tend to call the Monday before UTA to the Friday after UTA the Hostage Crisis. Our full-time Air Reserve Technicians, Active Guard Reserve and Traditional Reservists on continuous orders work 12 days straight as we bring in our Traditional Reservists for the weekend. During the week before the UTA, our full-timers are charged with developing the training plans and execution during the UTA. This weekend is vital so that our citizen soldiers can perform when called on by our country.

During the 2012 Theater Security Package deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, most people didn't know there were Traditional Reservists standing next to their active duty counterparts. As a reservist, we don't want you to notice a difference. We want to perform at the same excellent standard set by the 49th Wing and the USAF. Training on the UTA weekend gives us a chance to ensure we meet your standards. We try to be self sufficient during our drills, but as impending moves affect all of us, we have had to ask for help from Team Holloman. They have always been there, and we appreciate it.

So what happens during a UTA weekend? In short, it is another day in the life of Holloman. We fly our sorties on Saturday, usually training with other reserve units over the skies of New Mexico. We do not fly the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper on the weekend, but we always have the instructor pilots and instructor sensor operators on standby. Our medical staff conducts our Physical Health Assessments, flight physicals and any required vaccinations. On Sundays, we accomplish training. Our maintainers are working hard to give back to the 49th Wing more Mission Capable ready jets than we started with. ADLS gets flooded as we knock out our required Computer-based Training. Officer Performance Reports, Enlisted Performance Reports and decoration packages are written and signed. It sounds like a normal Monday or Tuesday at Holloman, but it just happens to be over the weekend. When the UTA is over on Sunday, our reservists pack up and drive home to their civilian jobs on Monday. Some specialties require more than the "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" and will stay for extra days to complete their requirements. That Monday, our full-timers are tasked with ensuring training records are signed off while they blend back into their mission with the 49th Wing.

So what do these citizen Airmen give to Team Holloman? A great example occurred during the swap out of bodies during the 2012 TSP. As the 45-day deployment was extended to six months and then nine, the swap out of maintainers would have ceased flying at Holloman for two weeks. The 44th Fighter Group was able to bring in our traditional maintainers to keep the flying program going and ensure both active and reserve pilots maintained their combat status.

Our citizen Airmen are just that. Just to name a few, we have pathologists, airline pilots, detention officers, nurses and even a John Deere tractor salesman. At one time, most were members of the active duty Air Force who separated for one reason or another. However, when the time to separate came, the members were highly trained in their specialties and valuable resources to their country. All still had a desire to serve our nation as they crafted their niche in the civilian world. The Air Force Reserves gives our citizens a chance to continue to serve, and the UTA weekend allows them to continue to train to the standards of the active duty Air Force.

In conclusion, I ask that as you drive back from El Paso or Las Cruces or get on that commercial flight, look at the person who is doing their job. There is a good chance you are looking at a master sergeant or major, attached to a guard or reserve unit. You may even see them at the dining facility on the weekend. We are ready to stand with you when our country calls upon us to go into action. Giving up one weekend per month to meet that call is a small thing we do to continue to serve.