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Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools (AFOATS):
Commissioned Officer Training
Maxwell AFB, Montgomery AL
These pictures show members of Golf Flight, COT Class 04-06, during the summer of 2004.
Name: 2LT Richard Knight
Class: COT 04:06
Before leaving for COT, I packed a few important items: hair clippers, laptop computer, printer, cash, several copies of orders, heavy ironing starch, and a totally assembled uniform. Check out the OTS website for your checklist of items to bring. If you can drive, a car is nice to have, but make sure you have insurance and registration up to date. The totally assembled uniform includes name tapes sewn on your BDUs, blue name tags for your blues, and a silver name tag for your service dress. You may want a few extra hangers. I would recommend learning how to shine your boots before you get there – try a cotton ball, a little water, black Kiwi parade polish, and several small circular strokes. Latex gloves will keep your fingers clean. Some people try lighters for their boots, but it only dries and cracks the wax. A finger nail clipper or lighter is good for removing threads (cables) from your uniform. For PT gear, you will have to buy it at the shopette on Maxwell because the OTS PT gear is different than the general Air Force PT gear. The printer came in handy because the printer in our dormitory did not work for the first half of the course. Regarding the cash, I brought $200 in fives, which you can lock (bring a combo lock) in the bottom drawer of the dresser. You’ll use this for food at the mess hall among other things. You’ll also want to have a credit card or large amount of cash in checking to pay for expenses. For example, class 04-06 was large enough to overflow the dormitories and some members of our flight stayed at the Air Force Inn during the entire four weeks. Although the officers were reimbursed eventually, they had to pay a four week hotel bill upon departure. Another thing to ensure is your physical fitness before arrival. If you don’t want to suffer, you’ll start lifting weights and running several months before COT. It is possible to get by without preparing, but you’ll be happy that you did.
Regarding a military ID, I went to the base nearest my home and found the MPF (military personnel flight). After showing my orders, they issued me a green reservist ID with an indefinite expiration. This has come in handy many times since. I highly recommend doing this.
Upon my arrival at the small airport in Montgomery, two BOT (basic officer training) students were waiting to escort us to Maxwell AFB. After waiting for the last plane to arrive with COT students, we boarded a bus that took us to the base. Due to my long travel day with multiple layovers, I arrived too late to check into the dormitory on the first day. Instead, the bus took us to the Air Force Inn across the street from the OTS campus. That night at the hotel, I shaved my head (I brought some hair clippers), took a shower, and watched Robin Williams’ standup comedy for a few minutes before falling asleep around 1 am. My alarm went off at 4 am, at which time I put on my civilian slacks and a collared shirt, packed my bags, and walked across the street to report. I remember standing in a line waiting to sign in while an FTO (flight training officer) paced beside us and yelled out a stern warning/welcome/lecture.
The first day you will receive a packet of OIs (Operating Instructions) – memorize these quickly because you’ll be tested soon. These are also on the web now, so read and memorize them before arriving. You should especially practice reporting and addressing OTS staff. During your time at OTS, always have a copy of your orders (multiple preferably) on your person. Try to identify prior enlistees—they know a lot and will teach you how to function.
Regarding the MRE’s in the field, I recommend mixing coffee crystals and hot chocolate in your coffee mug (your whole flight can buy mugs from the FTO). Then take the heating element inserted into the reacting bag and roll it up so that the opening is on the rolled end. Then place the heating element/reacting bag into the coffee mug with your dry coffee crystals and hot chocolate. Add water to the reacting bag and then to the mug. After it is hot, remove the heating element/reacting back and enjoy your hot chocolate/coffee.
Concerning the tests at OTS, they are based 100% on the SOBs (standard of behavior). When I was studying on the weekends, I would type out the SOBs and the answers. Your flight will appreciate it if you give them these a couple of days before the exam. However, they should have looked through the SOBs for themselves first.
I was the photography officer during COT, and I did a few things to help our flight stand out. I measured the name plates next to the doors in the dorms and printed name, flight, and the Air Force emblem to identify each member of the flight. Also, I organized our board in the classroom with individual pictures of each flight member and our FTO. We also put up personal pictures of our families at the bottom of the board. Be creative, but organized. I recommend burning CDs of all the pictures for each flight member at the end. Take lots of pictures.
I highly value my time spent at OTS. It helped me develop my courage and professionalism. Becoming an officer in the USAF is a transformation unlike any other. Your experience, character, and knowledge gained from COT, as with most everything in life, depends completely upon your attitude and the effort you put forth. Hit the ground running! And when you come home, I recommend wearing your service dress-you've earned it.
Medical Student Orientation to Aerospace Medicine (MSOAM)
Images taken in June of 2005.
Name: 2LT Richard Knight
Class: MSOAM June 2005
I attended the MSOAM at Brooks City-Base in San Antonio between my first and second years of medical school. You will likely be billeted at a small hotel off base called La Quinta at 3180 Goliad. The hotel has a pool and BBQ (see picture above). Make sure that you have enough money/credit to cover the hotel bill. Across the intersection from the hotel is a grocery store where you can find inexpensive microwaveable meals. It is a long walk to the gate entrance, so you should either ask a classmate for a ride or take the hotel shuttle/minivan. On regular duty days, the bus will pick you up at the hotel. You may want to consider bringing a car, but remember insurance and registration.
From my three weeks at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine (SAM), the ride in the human centrifuge stands out as the most memorable experience. Everyone has an opportunity to take a ride. If you ask nicely, they will video record the entire class in the centrifuge. You can make copies of the recording for your later viewing pleasure. There were no formal tests at MSOAM when I attended, but that may have changed. You will also practice parachute landing falls (PFLs) from a concrete ledge and then from a large platform with a harness. You may have the opportunity to run through the obstacle course at Lackland AFB for basic trainees. Take an extra change of clothes and towel to the obstacle course because you may get really wet and you will certainly get dirty. You will probably run in the "fun run," which is a 1.5mi loop starting at the gym. I also recommend that you go see hanger 9, which is the only World War I era aircraft hangar listed in the National Register of Historic Places. During your time on base, you can eat lunch at the shopette, but I recommend taking your own lunch. I would often eat lunch at the picnic tables near the pool next to the shopette. The library is just north of the shopette and has internet access. You can also access the internet with your laptop in the lobby of La Quinta. You will have an opportunity to fly a flight simulator, which is a lot of fun. You will have a lot of free time, and you may take trips to float the Guadelupe, have fun at New Braunfels water park, see the missions of San Antonio, explore the river walk, go to Sea World, etc. For example, one of the officers was a pilot and we rented a plane together with two other people. We flew to Lockhart and ate at Black's BBQ. On a side note, there is a barber shop in the shopette at Brooke City-Base as well as at Lackland. If you need uniform supplies, you can go to the MCSS at Lackland. Try your best to make it to the gym at Brook. If that's not possible, the hotel has some old cardio equipment. It will likely be too hot to run in the afternoons, and there's no sidewalk anyway. You may also participate in building an Alaska tent--watch out for scorpions. You will also likely participate in a field training exercise along side people who are being deployed soon. As with COT, you can anticipate some tear gas. You will learn about CCATT (critical care air transport team) and SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, and escape) training. The mainstay of the MSOAM is lectures from flight surgeons who love what they do.
While I was at the MSOAM, I visited Wilford hall to learn more about my areas of interest. The physicians were willing to sit down with me to discuss the residency and how to get there. There was also a formal meeting for the whole MSOAM class with the department of ophthalmology.
Name: Richard Knight
The UWSOM uses a system of eight "tracks" to organize all 180 students' schedules during the third year of medical school. Each track is simply a different order of the required third year clerkships, plus one six-week elective. Please see: http://apps.medical.washington.edu/somoc/Third%20Year%20Track.pdf
During December of your second year, the folks in A-300 host a meeting describing all of the clerkships, the tracks, and the process of selecting/requesting a track. If you are in the military, you have a special preference to choose the track you want. To obtain the track you want, meet with the registrar, Connie Lamb, before the tracks are assigned - this is important.
I chose track #5 because of the 6-week elective block in January, which allowed me to see medicine, surgery, and psychiatry before jumping into an active duty tour (ADT) in urology. To set up an ADT during your third year, you should talk with the people in A-300 to receive the paperwork for an away clerkship. This should be done several months in advance because the paperwork must be turned in to A-300 at least two months prior to the ADT. Also, the Air Force requires that all their paperwork is done at least 90 days prior to starting the ADT clerkship. The UW paperwork consists mainly of one 1/2 sheet of paper that requires information about the away clerkship as well as a signature from the UW department that will be granting credit for the clerkship. Although you may meet with the residency program director early in your third year, they may expect to see you again during the normal interview time early in the fourth year. However, the early face-time with the program will improve your chances of matching if you make a good impression. The UW coordinator for the urology department is:
325 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Office Phone: (206) 731-5384
Fax: (206) 731-5194
HMC Urology Clinic Phone: (206) 731-3241
His office is located at Harborview's urology clinic on three-west (3W).
I recently discovered the surgical specialty clerkships away from UW (e.g., an ADT in urology) do not apply toward the surgical selective requirements in the fourth year. For more information about the ADTs, log in to the AFIT HPSP website https://www.afit.edu/cip/ or contact Ms. Mary Neely at the AFIT HPSP office at email@example.com.
An Army HPSP student informed me that active duty tours are scheduled according to the military fiscal calendar and thus only one ADT could be performed per fiscal year. If this were true, then only one ADT could be completed prior to the match because the fiscal year ends in October. Doubting this information, I called Ms. Mary Neely, who said that multiple ADTs can be performed in one fiscal year. This will allow one ADT during the third year and one ADT early in the fourth year, thus providing two ADT experiences prior to the match.
Please read only if interested in urology or San Antonio:
Addendum by Richard Knight 2/17/07: I recently returned from my ADT in urology at Wilford Hall Medical Center (WHMC) in San Antonio. The medical student coordinator for Wilford Hall is:
Mr. Jaime Acevedo
59th Medical Wing/GE
Attn: GME Clerkship Office
2200 Bergquist Dr. Suite 1
Lackland AFB, TX 78236-5300
Phone (210) 292-7441
Fax (210) 292-3951
You will arrange the administrative details with Mr. Acevedo for your clerkship at Wilford Hall. You will send him the clerkship request form several months before the clerkship. On your first day you will report to his office 6B03 on the sixth floor for a short in processing session and a quick tour. If you do urology, Mr. Acevedo will introduce you to Ms. Lilia Neaves. She is the administrator for the urology department. On your first day, you should find the intern on your service and ask them for an introduction and tour. Make sure that someone shows you the O.R. on your first day. Please email me if you would like the patient tracker list and helpful phone numbers.
The medical students typically visit the clerkship sites early in their fourth year (July, August, September). I visited the site for six weeks starting 3 Jan 07, and thus I was the only medical student on the service. The urology service is split into red and blue teams. I functioned as the intern on the blue team, while the actual intern covered the red team. I was given my own office/exam room, which was very nice for seeing clinic patients and getting work done. The blue team operates on Monday and Thursday, while the red team operates on Tuesday and Friday. Wednesdays are reserved for pre-op conference, M&M, and academics in the morning followed by clinic in the afternoon. Additionally, you will attend occasional Monday evening conferences at the University of Texas Health Science Center where residents will present cases. Being the only medical student, I was able to see cases in the O.R. four days per week. The blue team carried one to four inpatients and one to three consults. During the clerkship, I arrived around 5-5:15 to pre-round on the inpatients and consults. Rounding with the residents started between 6:30 and 6:40 and the first case usually started at 7:00. Afternoon rounds were usually informal with the residents except on Fridays. The attendings often would round on Friday afternoons, so make sure to preround in the afternoon on these days. Weekend rounds are optional, but make sure that you give your pager to the first-call resident on call.
The only requirement during your clerkship is a powerpoint presentation on the subject of your choice. You may ask for advice regarding the subject from one of the residents or attendings. I recommend that you start working on this presentation during the first week of your clerkship. It is your opportunity to shine.
During my six weeks at WHMC, I stayed in the Visiting Officer's Quarters (VOQ) on base. The VOQ is Bldg 2435 on the corner of Kenly and Larson Streets. If you enter through the Valley Hi Gate, the VOQ is on the left just after the bridge. Relative to WHMC, the VOQ is about 1/2 mile south. The rooms are okay, and I recommend using the wireless internet in the lobby. There is also free coffee and hot chocolate in the lobby as well as two big screen televisions. The front desk staff are extremely nice.
The Air Force will approve a rental car for your stay at Lackland. I could not imagine the trip without a car. Weekend activities include bicycling in the hill country, enjoying dinner at Rio Rio Cantina on the Riverwalk, watching a Spurs game, playing golf at Gateway Hills on base, mountain biking at McCallister park, the San Antonio Zoo, Sea World, Six Flags, watching a Missions baseball game, walking through marketsquare, and visiting all the missions - not just the Alamo. Gateway Hills golf course is just to the east of the VOQ. You can hit golf balls on the range for $1 per bucket and the clubs are free to use on the range. The green fees for an O-1 are $14 and the course is very forgiving.
To bicycle in the hill country, I recommend renting a trunk rack and a road bike from Britton's bike shop at US 281 and Thousand Oaks: http://www.brittonbikes.com/. You can find bike maps at the bike shop. We took I-10 to Leon Springs and parked at the Starbucks. We then road south west on Boerne Stage Rd and turned left on Scenic Loop Rd. This road took us all the way to Helotes, home of Floore's Country Store and the Helotes Country Club. We were lucky enough to have a free bloody mary at the country club and watch some football on a Sunday afternoon. We retraced our route on Scenic Loop Rd to Babcock Rd, where we took a right. We then turned left on Heurmann Rd, which lead us back to the frontage road of I-10 where we turned left. After a couple miles on the frontage road, we were back at Starbucks. Whatever you choose to do in San Antonio, make sure that you enjoy it. There is no shortage of activities.