Perseverance pays off for former MTI

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Janelle PatiƱo
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
A Fairchild NCO recently went from grooming the ranks to rejoining the ranks. Tech. Sgt. Noel Hachtel, 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron training and validation office NCO in charge, reflects back on his time as a Military Training Instructor.

Even though Hachtel earned Airman below the zone and received a few awards, his journey to becoming an MTI was definitely not an easy one.

"I was Airman of the Year, NCO of the year twice and even got to the command level awards, and was still denied six times because they felt I was too new for the program," said Hachtel on applying for an MTI position. "Finally, on the seventh time, the cards all just fell into place and they finally accepted me."

During the six and a half week training for MTIs, the California native went through some challenges that made him doubt himself, but later realized it was all part of process.

"My trainer basically made me wear the trainee's hat and treated me like one during my training, and without me knowing, it was all part of the plan to make me a better and effective training instructor," he said. "I didn't understand it at first, but after hearing the words 'I am proud of you' from my trainer, all of the hardships I went through made it all worth the journey."

When Hachtel was given his first flight to train, there were challenges he had to face to get to where he is now.

"Everything you do as an MTI has to go by the book ... you have the responsibility to teach trainees what the right thing is to do or it will reflect on you," said Hachtel. "There were little techniques I had to come up with for them to remember how to do it correctly."

There are a lot of inherent responsibilities with being an MTI. It is not only about training, but also about making sure trainees are taken care of.

"I had this mindset that it is my responsibility to the trainees' family--that I was entrusted not only to train them, but also take care of them," Hachtel said. "I can't fail or let anyone down. I was afraid that I was going to do something wrong and I didn't want to set my trainees up for failure."

With an 18-hour work day, having to balance between work and family was one of the challenges Hachtel had to face at first.

"Within my first year, my home life was definitely one of the biggest challenges I faced and thankfully my wife and kids understood how my schedule was like and what I did," he said. "It was also challenging to meet my supervisor's expectations. I wanted to be what everybody expected me to be."

According to Hachtel, seeing his trainees grow as Airmen at the end of every flight, and being able to finish as either an honor or warrior flight is very rewarding. Being an MTI is not just a regular job because it epitomizes what the Air Force is--excellence -- and it's the best job in the world, said Hachtel.

"What comes to mind every time I hear the word MTI is perfection; you have to always look and be your best," Hachtel said. "You are the one person trainees will never forget because you have affected their lives in some kind of unique way."

Staff Sgt. Lei Annie Hachtel, his wife, admits to having difficulties with having an MTI husband at first, but learned to do some of the things on her own.

"Being in the military and having an MTI for a husband definitely brought a lot of challenges to our family," said Lei. "He was rarely home, especially when he was pushing Flights one after the other,"
"Now that he has more time, we're able to spend a lot of time doing activities with the kids," said Lei. "He coaches my son's basketball and soccer team."

After five years of being an MTI, being able to go back to work in a different environment does have its differences, said Hachtel. However, his job here and his job at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, also has its similarities.

"I enforce rules back at Lackland and I do the same here. The only difference is the people who I'm enforcing the rules to," said Hachtel. "Work hours are also different in a way where I now have more time for my wife and kids. I get to watch them perform or play sports after work."

Now that Hachtel is no longer an MTI, there are things he misses about his old job. One of those is the lessons he learned from trainees that changed his views in life.

"I will miss the little things like kids arguing for the first few weeks and watch them solve misunderstandings with maturity as time passed by," he said. "I realized how these trainees come from different parts of the world and they come together to reach their goals. There were some who were having a hard time, but managed to get back up and succeed."

Being an MTI, you encounter different types of people who will teach you a lesson and make you realize how we all shouldn't take anything for granted, said Hachtel.

"At the end of the day, this job is all about life lessons and preparing soon-to-be Airmen for their future," he said. "It's crazy to think that you are the one who trainees depend on and look up to. You affect their lives in some way or another and seeing them smile after a long couple of weeks of training is very rewarding."