MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Brian Walker didn't need to take a leave of absence from the law practice he owns in Fort Worth, Texas, or take the pay cut that goes with it in exchange for a summer in Montgomery, Ala., where sweat starts pouring down faces like rain trailing down a window during a rain storm. The Reserve captain also didn't need to trade the space of his 50-acre ranch with five horses and crops ready for harvest for a 600-square-foot billeting room.
"It's a sacrifice I wanted to make because I believe that teaching is so important," said Walker. "There are things that I have seen in our Air Force that I think we need to instill in our officer corps that are important to me, so I decided I want to make a sacrifice to be a part of the process of training officers."
(U.S. Air Force video by Senior Airman Ineke Honingh)
Walker is the first judge advocate officer instructor at the Air Force Officer Training School's Commissioned Officer Training course.
Walker went through COT five years ago. The course instructors train all pre-commissioned doctors, lawyers and chaplains. At that point, he had been a lawyer for five years with case experience in federal and state courts. Today, he has returned to COT to share his experience both as an officer and civilian lawyer with his students.
He didn't; however, reveal his Reserve position with his students until after a few weeks into the five-week course.
"It's funny because we were going over our impressions of him, some of us were spot-on, but my personal first impression of him was of him running off the stage and yelling 'flight get in the room.'" 2nd Lt. (Dr.) Christina Loyke, a student of Walker's, said. "We weren't really expecting him to say, 'I just left my civilian law firm to come here and teach, and I'm in the Reserve.'"
She also noted that his professional experience aided class instruction.
"He's very good at presenting everything, especially when we did the military law section, which was a topic that no one had any idea about in our class," said Loyke. "He knows how to teach it in a manner we can understand, rather than just throwing the book at us and saying, 'okay, learn it.'"
Walker weaves his lessons with his own experiences, instead.
"His personal experiences help us gauge a better understanding of what's going on, and he has a lot of military experience, so he's able to give us both perspectives from civilian work to military work," said Loyke.
While Walker said he wasn't sure if he was ready for the 15-hour days of physical training, teaching and drill-instructing, he was sure that he wanted to make a difference in the Air Force.
"One of the reasons I was zealous about doing this job is being able to instill in our trainees the knowledge that they have the ability to be empowered," he said. "They're officers. By virtue of that commission, they have the duty and the obligation to make decisions, to not be gripped with fear, but to focus on doing the mission and doing it decisively."
Walker's commander, Lt. Col. Shannon Juby, 23rd Training Squadron, is glad the long hours didn't dissuade him from teaching at COT.
"The bottom line is that diversity amongst the entire Officer Training School staff is highly desired," Juby said. "We work together across the group to provide the best preparation we can for our trainees, regardless of AFSC [Air force specialty code] or component. Captain Walker is a perfect fit to our OTS team and brings a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the training environment."
Walker returns to ranch life in the first week of August, but he'll be back to teaching COT in a few weeks to give another class his Reserve, judge advocate and civilian law perspectives.