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From black knight to space knight

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE Colo. – 1st Lt. Marvin Mays, 13th Space Warning Squadron, flight commander of operations, on the drill field immediately after being awarded his Master Military Training Instructor blue rope as a staff sergeant in May of 2011 at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. The blue rope is awarded to MTIs in the top 10 percent of MTI classes and is an honor and distinction that he’s very proud of. (Courtesy photo provided by 1st Lt. Mays.)

CLEAR AIR FORCE STATION, Alaska – First Lt. Marvin Mays, flight commander of operations with the 13th Space Warning Squadron at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska, stands on the drill field next to his flight immediately after being awarded his Master Military Training Instructor blue rope as a staff sergeant in May 2011 at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. The blue rope is awarded to MTIs in the top 10 percent of MTI classes and is an honor and distinction that Mays is proud of. (Courtesy photo provided by 1st Lt. Marvin Mays.)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- 1st Lt. Marvin Mays, 13th Space Warning Squadron, flight commander of operations, tries to break a tackle during a rugby match in March of 2014. Mays, then a second lieutenant played for the USAF Rugby team in the 2009-2011 seasons, winning several championships and flying to Australia to play and win against the Australian Royal Air Force Rugby team. (Courtesy photo provided by 1st Lt. Mays.)

CLEAR AIR FORCE STATION, Alaska -- First Lt. Marvin Mays, flight commander of operations with the 13th Space Warning Squadron at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska, tries to break a tackle during a rugby match in March 2014. Mays, then a second lieutenant, played for the Air Force Rugby team in the 2009-2011 seasons, winning several championships. (Courtesy photo provided by 1st Lt. Marvin Mays)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- CLEAR AIR FORCE STATION, Alaska -- In early 2002, 1st Lt. Marvin Mays was working as the black knight at a Medieval Times. While he loved it, his wife was pregnant and he needed something more stable than swinging swords and riding horses.

He chose the Air Force because, as he said, his wife took one look at base housing in a recruiting brochure and said that’s where she wanted to raise her children.

After finishing basic military training, he was assigned to be an F-16 avionics technician while stationed at Osan Air Base, Korea. In Korea he was asked to play for the base rugby team. He played against other teams in the area, including local Korean teams, and he loved it.

“I was drawn to rugby because it was tough, but it also requires you to focus and use your mind,” said Mays, “It’s not just running around slamming guys.”

After leaving Korea he was sent to Hill Air Force Base, Utah. At Hill, he had the opportunity to play semi-pro football for the Bear River Valley Rockets of the Rocky Mountain Football League. He ended up playing there for two years as a wide receiver and running back. Mays enjoyed it because that was the closest he could get to playing professional football while still being able to serve in the Air Force.

In 2009 he went to Lackland AFB where he became a military training instructor and earned his master military training instructor blue rope, all while playing on the Air Force Rugby team.

”Being an MTI had such an impact on me because it forced me to be a better NCO and leader,” said Mays. “BMT doesn't just make civilians into Airmen, it also makes NCOs into much better NCOs and leaders.”

While he was busy being a top MTI, Mays also had an impressive record with the USAF Rugby team. He played on all three All Armed Forces Championship winning teams in 2009 - 2011. He was able to fly to Australia and play against the Royal Australian Air Force Rugby team and win twice, as well as playing against the Royal New Zealand Air Force Rugby team.

If you’re sensing a pattern here, there is one. Mays has always done things that pushed his limits, either physically or mentally.

“I don’t always set out to do things that require strength or toughness,” Mays said, “It just seems like people ask me and I don’t say no, but I do like to push myself and see where the limit is.”

To further test his limits, he was selected to go to officer candidate school after his tour as an MTI. He commissioned in 2013 and was stationed as a flight commander of operations with the 13th Space Warning Squadron at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska.

“I don't think I could have earned my commission without the lessons I learned as an MTI. It was so important,” Mays said. “I’m doing a job now that I didn’t even know existed. Not only did I not know it existed, but I didn’t know how important it was. Everyday I’m learning something new, something that pushes the edge of my knowledge and that’s important to being a space operator,” said Mays.

Leaning something new every day is important to becoming a well-rounded Airman and that’s something Mays learned over the years. Mays will be coming to Peterson AFB in early 2017 and looks forward to bringing all of his experience and knowhow to the 16th Space Control Squadron.


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