'All-in': Academy AMT is enlisted ambassador, role-model for cadets

  • Published
  • By Ray Bowden
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
In the Cadet Wing, that corner of the U.S. Air Force Academy where the cadre of noncommissioned officers serving as Academy military trainers help cadets thrive, Master Sgt. Bill Allen fits right in.

He's the superintendent of Cadet Wing training where he and other AMTs, officers and civilians, guide and mentor cadets, assist their air officer commanding with administrative duties and teach cadets the profession of arms.

"Our work hours can be very long," Allen said. "Our cadets are involved in so many programs, including nighttime and weekend events and we try to support each of them."

Allen serves on the Cadet Wing's Training Support Directorate. He oversees basic cadet training, Expeditionary Survival and Evasion Training, Operations Air Force and other events for the wing's 4,000 cadets and training staff of 33.

"Academy military trainers are the stakeholders for these programs," he said.

Despite the long hours, Allen said serving is rewarding.

"Each day, we have the opportunity to influence cadets professionally and personally," he said. "Academy military trainers engage with cadets on military, academic and personal issues through mentorship and coaching. The AMT and cadet relationship is an integral part of a cadet's career."

The Woburn, Massachusetts native enlisted in the Air Force in June 1998 as a security forces airman with the goal of pursuing a career in law enforcement. He's been an AMT for nearly three years.

"My father was on the Woburn Police Department for more than 33 years," Allen said. "After he retired from the department, he served as a prosecutor at the Middlesex County Superior Court."

Allen was exposed to the AMT career field while assigned to the 10th Security Forces Squadron from 2004-2008.

"I told myself if I could apply for the job down the road, I would do so in a heartbeat as I felt my combat and operational experience would be beneficial in shaping our Air Force leaders," he said.

Allen's supervisor, Col. Kevin Schiller, director of Cadet Wing training support, said Allen's security forces experience adds to his expertise as an AMT and senior NCO.

"He's a true professional who brings enthusiasm to the cadet wing," Schiller said. "His no-nonsense security forces background lets cadets know he means business, even with his ever-present smile. His personality draws folks in and I'm sure his cadets would do anything to earn his approval and respect. Bill plays a huge role in the Cadet Wing's success, especially in the realm of personnel management."

Allen said he enjoys being an enlisted ambassador for the future officers.

"The AMTs strive to get cadets to understand the enlisted forces' role in how we fly, flight and win in air, space and cyberspace," he said. "From the tactical, strategic and operational levels of leadership, cadets learn through our mentorship how NCOs and senior NCOs provide effective leadership and manage teams."

Allen expanded his professional horizon this spring when he attended the Advanced Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. He completed the course with a 97.5 average, a score which placed him on the academy's Superior Academic Performance list. Allen was also designated a Superior Fitness Performer for scoring 297 out of 300 points on the Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test.

"The physical training we conducted was some of the hardest I've been a part of," he said. "The academy was on the mountainous side of Camp Pendleton. We completed four-to-five-mile mountain runs and a 7.7-mile mountain Director's Run at graduation, high intensity interval training, infantry obstacle courses, Martial Arts training and a six-event Strong Man Competition."

Allen's platoon at the academy competed against other platoons during these sessions.

"You need to give all you have during every session," he said. "It's a highly competitive atmosphere. No Marine wanted to be passed or outworked by someone in Air Force PT shorts."

Allen didn't take the opportunity to attend the Marine academy lightly.

"We tell our Airmen that if we want to grow, we have to be willing to step outside of our comfort zone," he said. "I practice what I preach. In this case, I wanted to compete, develop and challenge myself in all areas. I learned of this unique opportunity and the very competitive application process and felt, based on my joint-operational experience as a security forces senior NCO, that I could be competitive for a slot."

Along with physical fitness, the course focused on Marine combat operations, planning processes, close-air support, professional briefings and joint doctrine in a deployed environment.

"These subjects have distinct similarities to security forces operations," Allen said. "The bottom line is that I was looking for different challenges and a chance to gain valuable insight on how we work together with our sister services. I couldn't have asked for a more professional experience."

Allen's class at the academy consisted of 63 male students.

"Once they found out I was security forces and had combat experience, they took me right in," he said. "My platoon accepted me right after our first PT session."

Schiller contacted Allen while he was at the school to let him know he'd been selected for promotion to senior master sergeant.

"I was fortunate to be able to break the news to Bill and his wife, Master Sgt. Sarah Allen, also an AMT," he said. "This was either an omen of more great things to come for Bill or just indicative of how he does things - with excellence and an 'all-in' attitude. He rocked the (Marine) program and proudly represented the Air Force -- but I wasn't surprised."

Allen's Air Force deployments include Afghanistan, Africa, the Gulf State region, Pakistan and Southwest Asia.