Holloman inducts first tech school white ropes

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Adrian Salazar
  • 49 Wing Public Affairs

The 16th Training Squadron held a ceremony to induct the first white rope leaders at Holloman Air Force base March 24, 2023.

During Air Force Technical Training students are given the opportunity to apply for leadership positions that are distinguished by colored aiguillettes or “ropes” on the left shoulder of their uniform. Students that pick up flight-level responsibilities are given ropes progressing  from green, to yellow, and finally red, but there are also ropes given out for special roles.  Airmen who earn a white robe represent the chaplain corps and provide connection, inspiration and care to their wingmen going through training alongside them.

“We reached out to AETC and said we’re interested in having a student liaison program for the chapel and, working together with six other programs, we went for it,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeremiah Henderson, 16th Training Squadron chaplain.

The white rope program is intended to bring awareness to the services the chapel provides and to connect with Airmen.

“We’re here to bring more awareness to what the chaplains do because sometimes people fight their own battles that they don’t need to fight alone,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Niaja Williams, 16th Training Squadron white rope leader.

The white aiguillettes make these Airman leaders  stand out from their peers and serve as a reminder that helping agencies are always available to those willing to reach out.

“Habits that start early in our careers are going to play out throughout our careers; for example, if we emphasize physical fitness, a lot of Airmen are going to develop good physical habits,” said Henderson. “By having white ropes easily accessible early in their careers, they’re more likely to become healthy whole Airmen.”

Many technical schools across the Air Force have previously implemented a white rope program, and their success inspired Holloman to cultivate its own and was fueled by a desire from the current white rope leaders to step up and fill the role.

“Being a white rope is something I always wanted to do but they didn’t have the program running here yet,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Niaja Williams. “When I heard about the program starting here I said I would definitely do it.”

White rope leaders have an expectation to give back to others and spend time growing as a leader by volunteering in the local community and at the refuel café in the dorms.

“At the heart of the white rope program is an opportunity to grow as a servant leader, our programs are all about service to others,” said Henderson. “The primary purpose is to have force multipliers who are out there and visible as a reminder to Airmen that they always have access to helping agencies.”

The impact white rope leaders are making on Holloman has just started and could continue to make an impact for many classes into the future.

“Commanders have told me that I’m doing something big even though I may not see it today, I’m about to pave the way for a lot of people to also follow and hopefully I’ll become stronger spiritually along the way,” said Williams.