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Coming Full Circle: Georgia Wing NCO Prepares for Officer Training School

February 12, 2024

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MAXWELL Air Force Base, Ala. –  Michael Sanchez knew he was going to serve his country. As a Civil Air Patrol cadet in Decatur, Georgia in 1998, Sanchez wanted to join the Army to “kick in doors.” But the Ira Eaker Award recipient didn’t realize at the time that his military career would eventually come full circle from his time in CAP.

Sanchez, a Master Sgt. who took on the role of Command Non-Commissioned Officer for Georgia Wing last year, turned down an opportunity to go to West Point in 2004. Instead, he enlisted in the service – a stark departure from the former cadet who once tested for the Spaatz award and joined CAP to prepare for a career as an officer.

“In CAP, I was so focused on just getting to the military,” he said. “I focused on the next badge to make my portfolio look good instead of making friends. You want to do be doing cool stuff. You want to be saluted. But there was more to it than I realized at the time.”

That realization for Sanchez came after he got married and deployed to Iraq, and again after his daughters were born.

“I had this sudden shift in priorities,” he said. “I wanted more than kicking in doors.”

After four years in the Army, he served another four years in the Army Guard while going to college. A five-year break in service followed but he knew his heart belonged with the Air Force. Eventually, he returned to his roots of wanting to become an officer.

On February 12, he’ll report to Officer Training School for three months of grueling training. From there, he’ll report to the Logistics Readiness Officer Course, which covers three logistics career fields: aircraft maintenance, munitions and logistics readiness. Finally, he’ll attend the Air Force Accelerated Mission Readiness Training, a training for new reserve Airmen to gain experience and training with full-time members.

He said his time as a cadet prepared him for this day.

“I learned a lot in CAP about followership and I’m trying to use the leadership skills I learned,” he said. “Always learn the job ahead of you so you can help that person as much as possible. Be tactful, treat people with respect and remember to always carry yourself for the job you want. And lastly, remove yourself from the drama. The mission comes first, and my mission is to take care of my people.”

While Sanchez is planning to continue as a senior member in CAP, he’s working to leave his current cadets, and his own children, with the things he’s learned. And even some things he wished he had learned in high school.

“Always strive for excellence and never stop growing,” he said. “My grandma used to say, ‘Open your gills. Be open to everything so you can breathe more. Soak it all in.’ But also learn to slow down. Enjoy where you are while you’re there.”

For More Information:

Capt. Elizabeth Peace
Georgia Wing Director of Marketing and Public Affairs
(770) 428-9031 x151

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