Staff Sgt. Dcoridrion Hicks earned the blue rope to signify he was among the service's best military training officers, a feat rare for a senior airman. (Courtesy of Dcoridrion Hicks)
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A former standout military training instructor who lost a stripe for name-calling and working late must leave the Air Force by Sept. 20.
Senior Airman Dcoridrion Hicks, who was featured on the June 24 cover of Air Force Times, is one of 600 airmen being forced out of the service in the latest efforts to thin the ranks.
The cuts, called date of separation, or DOS rollbacks, target airmen who have refused training and permanent change-of-station orders as well as those with nonjudicial punishment on their records. The Air Force recently announced it had not received enough volunteers for early exits and would have to cut 600 through involuntary separation.
Hicks was summoned before an Article 15 hearing in April for using profanity with a basic training flight and working late in his MTI office, which was located in the female dormitory. Both incidents occurred two years earlier. He was busted from staff sergeant to senior airman for the offenses.
Until then, Hicks had been a rising star; he was selected for the elite title of master military training instructor in June 2012 while still an E-4, a rare feat for such a young airman. Hicks believes he was caught up in an effort to hold MTIs accountable amid a basic training scandal that so far has resulted in the convictions of 22 former instructors on charges ranging from the rape of a recruit to contact with basic training graduates over Facebook, which is forbidden.
The former command chief of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and the 37th Training Wing said the punishment went too far. Retired Chief Master Sgt. Juan Lewis was the top enlisted leader in Hicks’ command from 2009 to 2012.
An analysis of MTI Article 15 hearings from 2009 to 2013 shows instructors are increasingly more likely to lose a stripe for offenses that did not rise to the level of a court-martial. Hicks and Lewis said they feared the Air Force has over-corrected when it comes to the crackdown on MTIs.
A week after Hicks’ story ran, he learned he would have to leave the Air Force, a career he had long hoped would take him until retirement. He said he still isn’t sure what kind of work he’ll do after leaving the service but isn’t worried.
“I know it will work out,” he said.