Native New Mexican trains future Air Force NCOs

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Garcia, Airman Leadership School flight instructor, observes students practice for the drill evaluation at Kirtland Air Force Base, Nov. 30. Garcia, a member of the 377th Force Support Squadron, has instructed and mentored more than 350 students.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Garcia, Airman Leadership School flight instructor, observes students practice for the drill evaluation at Kirtland Air Force Base, Nov. 30. Garcia, a member of the 377th Force Support Squadron, has instructed and mentored more than 350 students.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Garcia, Airman Leadership School flight instructor, explains the drill and ceremonies evaluation to his flight at Kirtland Air Force Base, Nov. 30. A typical class at ALS is six weeks long, or 27 training days.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Garcia, Airman Leadership School flight instructor, explains the drill and ceremonies evaluation to his flight at Kirtland Air Force Base, Nov. 30. A typical class at ALS is six weeks long, or 27 training days.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Garcia, Airman Leadership School flight instructor, provides corrections to students during practice for a drill evaluation at Kirtland Air Force Base, Nov. 30. Garcia, who belongs to the 377th Force Support Squadron, has instructed and mentored over 350 students.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Garcia, Airman Leadership School flight instructor, provides corrections to students during practice for a drill evaluation at Kirtland Air Force Base, Nov. 30. Garcia, who belongs to the 377th Force Support Squadron, has instructed and mentored over 350 students.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- One New Mexico native is working to help Airmen in the United States Air Force prepare for promotion by teaching them how to supervise and lead effectively.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Garcia is an instructor in Airmen Leadership School, a six-week course that teaches Airmen supervisory skills. The course is taught by non-commissioned officers who’ve had experience in the operational Air Force as supervisors. 

Garcia grew up in Tijieras, New Mexico, in the eastern mountains of Bernalillo County. 

“I graduated from Manzano High School. We rode the bus 30 minutes into the city in the morning and an hour out of the city because of traffic,” Garcia said. “My roots are here, my family is still here, and it’s my home.”

Garcia had always wanted to be in the military. But the Air Force wasn’t his original route. 

“I originally wanted to be in the Army,” Garcia said. “I wanted to be Airborne , but at that time I had a high school sweetheart that didn’t want me to go. So I didn’t and I regretted that decision up until I enlisted again. I just wanted to do something important.”

After serving his first assignment at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, as a weapons maintenance team member, Garcia got an assignment back home to Kirtland. In late 2013, he heard about a position to be an ALS instructor. 

“I received an email from the current commandant of the school that I needed to come in for an interview,” Garcia said. “He asked me one question, ‘do you want to be an instructor?’ To that I said, ‘if the Air force is willing to give me an opportunity, I will take it and I will do the best I can.’ I went up to the wing level interview and I didn’t think I did that well but I did well enough to get the job.”

After completing the six week instructor training course in March 2014 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Garcia certified as an instructor at Kirtland. Currently, Garcia has 3,729 instructor hours, has instructed 28 classes, and has mentored over 350 students.

“At first, this was an opportunity,” Garcia said. “But in all honesty, this has worked two-fold for me. All the things I need to work on as a person, the Air Force and this job has really helped me better myself. That’s the ‘why’ behind it for me.”

As one of the many ALS instructors around the globe, Garcia understands the importance of his work and its impact on the future of the Air Force. 

“Education is power,” Garcia said. “This is the first chance that many Airmen have to solely focus on education that’s going to be applied to their career fields and career progression. This job is important because we’re trying to get leaders educated on what to expect when they go back to their jobs.”

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