Airman finds fulfillment in weapons instruction

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
  • JBER Public Affairs
Senior Airman Jamarcus Perry's average work day includes teaching classrooms full of people about marksmanship, handling of and issuing various weapons and running a firing range at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

A first-term Airman with six years in the Air Force, serving as a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance instructor wasn't what he expected to be doing when he grew up.

Instead, he had wanted to join the military since eighth grade, when his math teacher recommended he try ROTC. When he started high school, he learned they had an Air Force Junior ROTC program and signed up.

"She said 'try it out, and if [you don't] like it after the first two years, get out,'" the native of Newport News, Va., said. "I ended up staying in all four years."

After high school, he saw two choices for himself -- college or the military.

"I wasn't ready for the freedom of college," he said. "I wanted the stability. I wanted the self-discipline. I believe it was worth it. [JROTC] shows you good stuff to help get by in [Basic Military Training].

"Facing movements came easy. Marching and the commands came easy. They show us how to wear the blues jacket and ribbons and stuff. When we got to that point in basic, I was already a step ahead," he continued

Today, Perry is a Combat Arms instructor with the 673rd Security Forces Squadron here.

"I think I've grown a lot," he said. "Security forces was actually my last choice, but I love working and interacting with people, getting to meet new people, so I figure having the chance to be an instructor, and working with the weapons, that's a win-win."

The training was challenging, he said, but it helped him realize he wanted to teach it to others.

"When I first started the weapons course, it was kind of hard. But after a while, it got easier. I just wanted to make it easier for somebody else."

Something that doesn't go unnoticed by coworkers.

"Airman Perry teaches a lot; he runs the weapons vault and the firing line," said Staff Sgt. Aric Shott, CATM instructor and a native of West Palm Beach, Fla. "He helps people qualify on the M4 carbine and M9 pistol for their deployment, temporary duty or their next assignment."

Perry said one of the reasons he loves his job are some of the unusual things Alaska offers such as an indoor firing range, which has been upgraded over the last few years.

"I really thought the range was the best part of coming to Alaska," he said. "That made Alaska so much better. It's been upgraded -- we've got the target retrieval system that brings the targets up and takes them back for us.

"We actually have an iPad, so we can do it from the computer. We can run the range from the tablet from outside of the room. It makes it much easier."

Perry said teaching is his favorite part of the job.

"It's the interaction -- getting the chance to teach somebody something new," he said. "We have a good time in class; it makes it enjoyable for everybody. I know for a fact, if you do get into a fire fight [while deployed], you'll need to know how to operate in case something happens.

"If someone's weapon goes down, or your weapon goes down, you'll at least know how to get it operational enough to defend yourself. What we teach, and what the students teach us, can be important in dire situations," Perry continued. "That's why we make sure everybody gets the basics down in class -- to be able to defend yourself and your comrades."

The most interactive part of the class is when they start breaking down the weapons and naming the parts, he said.

"You get to talk to them about what the weapon does and what it can do," he said. "You get some pretty good answers."

Perry said he continues to grow and improve his skill set, better himself as a person and better support his and JBER's mission.

"It's great; I love it," he said. "It really helps that we're here to get everybody on the right track. I'm doing my best, everyday becoming a better person than yesterday. That's the goal."