All together now

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Synchronization comes in many forms. It can be an important component in life, in which everything happens seamlessly and falls into place. In the absence of unison, life can become chaotic, unpredictable and even dangerous.

Drill teams are unison perpetuated, and the 316th Training Squadron drill team re-embodies it. The entire art of drill relies on every member of the team to be on beat at all times. They function as one. They operate as one and they perform awe-inspiring acts as one.

“Everyone is different and everyone learns differently,” said Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Ignacio, 316th TRS student and black rope corps commander. “My goal is to make sure everyone is on the same page instead of moving on and letting people get confused.”

Ignacio leads his team in exhibition drill by conducting the cadence call and other commands, setting the beat for them to follow.

“It wasn’t all me, it was a team effort,” said Ignacio. “I urged everyone to put in ideas and we just pulled pieces that we thought looked good and put it all together.”

On June 22, they competed in the quarterly Goodfellow drill competition winning in the regulation and exhibition drill categories. In regulation drill, the team follows basic marching commands and focuses not only on following the command, but also on executing it with skill in unison. Exhibition drill is where almost anything goes and the team is limited only by their imagination.

In exhibition drill, synchronicity is key.

“We’re a really close tight knit group,” said Ignacio. “We’ve always understood and we’re there for each other through the whole thing. We try to stress the core values and help each other out, be wingmen, both in and out of uniform.”

The team will sometimes separate into shapes, weaving through each other and operating not as one group, but as two or even three. All it takes is just one misstep and the whole thing comes off beat. If this happens, the seamlessness is lost, so the team spends months and months practicing, going over the drills hundreds and hundreds of times until the performance is second nature.

“We started practicing and putting the team together about three months ago, and from there we started to develop each Airman and let them know what’s expected of them and how to be the best black rope airman that they can be,” said Ignacio.

Ignacio demonstrates the leadership qualities revered within the Air Force: tenacity, will-to-do, patience, care and the ability to listen.

Learning to operate as a team is more than winning trophies and looking cool. It translates into a cooperative nature, into learning how to be a piece of a whole and knowing one’s place and assisting to get the mission done. Because, in the end, that’s what the military is about: being a team.