Airmen trades medical gear for Army flight gear

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. - Staff Sgt. Jason Boutwell, 347th Aeromedical Dental Squadron, practices checking a patient’s blood pressure on Staff Sgt. Ethan Hawkins, 347th ADS, Jan. 31. Sergeant Boutwell plans to transition from blue to green so he can become an Army warrant officer and helicopter pilot. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Manuel Martinez)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. - Staff Sgt. Jason Boutwell, 347th Aeromedical Dental Squadron, practices checking a patient’s blood pressure on Staff Sgt. Ethan Hawkins, 347th ADS, Jan. 31. Sergeant Boutwell plans to transition from blue to green so he can become an Army warrant officer and helicopter pilot. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Manuel Martinez)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A Moody Airmen will soon swap his emergency medical equipment for flight gear when he transitions from blue to green. 

Transferring into a different branch of the U.S. military, however, isn’t the only thing that will be changing for Staff Sgt. Jason Boutwell, 347th Aeromedical Dental Squadron aerospace medical craftsman. 

He will also switch to a different rank structure since he was selected for his new job as an Army helicopter pilot through the Warrant Officer Recruitment program. 

“I’ve always wanted to fly helicopters,” he said. “Being assigned to Moody and having the opportunity to see them fly here has been a huge influence on me. It made me want to focus on realizing my dream of sitting in the pilot’s seat of a helicopter.” 

Setting his sight on the goal, Sergeant Boutwell started researching on the Internet to see how he could make his dream reality. 

“I went to the Warrant Officer Recruiting page online, and started the application process from there,” said Sergeant Boutwell, who’s been in the Air Force three years, but also has four years prior enlisted service in the Army. “All said and done, it took nearly six months of taking various tests, filling out applications and getting recommendations. But, to see my dream come true - all the time invested in applying is going to be worth it.”
While the application process is through for Sergeant Boutwell, the time investment is not. 

“The difference between warrant officers and commissioned officers is a warrant officer is focused on their specific military specialty rather than on increased levels of leadership and command positions,” said the sergeant, who has no prior flying experience. “So, the first step is for me is to learn how to become a warrant officer, then I’ll learn how to fly helicopters.” 

That ground-up teaching will begin with the six-week Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Ala. The training concentrates on ensuring the candidates gain all the leadership, tactics and military training skills needed to be a successful warrant officer. 

“I’ve heard it’s like boot camp times ten,” said Sergeant Boutwell, who will receive E-5 pay as a warrant officer candidate. “It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m ready for it.”
After WOC graduation, Warrant Officer Boutwell will remain at Fort Rucker for about a year of helicopter pilot training. 

“I’m not sure what kind of helicopter I’ll be flying yet. That’s determined mid-way through the course,” he said. “If I end up flying the Blackhawk, my medical training will come in handy since they can be used for aeromedical evacuations. But, I’m ready to fly them all. I’m just excited to have the opportunity to fly.” 

And while his military counterparts here at Moody are also excited for him, they’re also sad to see him leave. 

“Sergeant Boutwell is motivated and always looking to increase his experience and technical expertise,” said his supervisor Tech. Sgt. George Foreman, NCO in charge of ambulance dispatch. 

“We’re sad to see him leave the Air Force and cross back into the Army. But this change is also taking him back to his original roots,” he said. “Everybody is going to benefit from this. With the mission in Iraq and various places, he will definitely have a key role in the war against terrorism. 

“The Air Force is losing a good asset,” continued Sergeant Foreman. “But he also stands as an inspiration for others that you can achieve your dreams if you push forward with them.” 

And, for Sergeant Boutwell all it took was a quest and the drive to get there. 

“Anyone wanting something bad enough should make the effort to keep working towards the goal,” he said. “The way this warrant officer and aviation program is put together, I had to really want it. But flying helicopters is my life’s dream and through dedication and a lot of hard work, I’m going to make it happen.”