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Dedication leads to Blue Rope success

Seven members of the 737th Training Group.

Tech. Sgt. Felipe Alvarado, center, holds the certificate signifying the award of the Master Military Training Instructor Blue Rope at the 331st Training Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, April 16, 2021. Only 10% of the MTI corps is awarded the honor of wearing the blue rope. From left are: Master Sgt. Aaron Adcock, 331st TRS first sergeant; Lt. Col. John Marx, 331st TRS commander; Tech. Sgt. Michelle Fernandez, 331st TRS; Alvarado; Tech. Sgt. Jason Perri, 331st TRS; Master Sgt. Ryan Waterfield, 331st TRS; and Master Sgt. Jason Evans, 737th Training Group. (Courtesy photo from Tech. Sgt. Felipe Alvarado)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Despite multiple failed attempts over the course of 15 months, Tech. Sgt. Felipe Alvarado, 331st Training Squadron, was awarded his Master Military Training Instructor blue rope, April 16.

Originally from Tamaulipas, Mexico, Alvarado moved to Laredo, Texas, at the age of 12. His mother, Benita Alvarado, wanted to give her family a better chance at life with more opportunities for growth and educational experiences.

“My mother is my rock, pride and joy! She has a drive that inspires me to be better and do the right things,” Alvarado said. “As a single parent, she always pushed me to go the extra mile to give us the best life possible even with the challenges she faced, like financial stability and language barriers.”

It was his mother who inspired him to join the Air Force.

 “As I grew older, I knew that I wanted to make her proud but I just didn’t know how,” Alvarado said. “One day, she mentioned that I should join the military because it would give me the foundation for growth, discipline and stability for my future.”

Alvarado said it was his way of giving back to the country that provided his family with a stable foundation, broadening education and a better living environment.

The Master Military Training Instructor competition is held once per quarter. This elite program recognizes superior instructional skill performance in serving as MTIs, with only 10% of the MTI Corps being awarded the honor of wearing the blue rope.

“With full transparency, it took me five times to accomplish this goal of mine,” Alvarado said. He explained that while he had resources and support from his BMT family, he was facing personal changes that knocked him out of the running.

The competition process includes a fitness test, teaching evaluations, subject matter proficiency verification and a board interview.

“Tech. Sgt. Alvarado’s tenacity and dedication in the pursuit of excellence is the epitome of our MTI Corps. His story, much like my own, is what makes our nation and our Air Force the best and unrivaled. He represents the kind of Airmen we need tomorrow now,” said Chief Master Sgt. Learie Gaitan, 737th Training Group superintendent. “His story captured my heart and it’s the same message I tell our MTIs and trainees every day. Do the best that you can with what you know and when you know better, do better.”

Alvarado did not let his failures stop him from achieving his goal of earning a Blue Rope.

“To become a Blue Rope means a lot to me. Not only because it was a goal of mine to achieve during my time as an MTI but to become a better leader for those around me and pay it forward,” he said. “I see it as a symbol which gives us the opportunity to work with people to whom we might not have a connection … but still do our best to be of significant value to them to make them better.”    

Alvarado said he charges those around him with a question: Do we want to be successful or significant?

“I would like to continue to grow as an Airman and be a better servant leader for those around me, with the end result of inspiring those around me to be better. I will always strive to make myself available for those in need because it’s never about ‘me’ but about the ‘we.’”