UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, Southwest Asia --
Airmen of all ranks and career fields, in the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, came together to learn about opportunities in the flying world and the paths they can take to get there. The Red Tails hosted an aircrew recruiting meeting to inform anyone interested in flying about the different opportunities available to Airmen that are currently serving.
“The purpose of the event was to increase awareness on rated aviation opportunities in the Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Roderick James, 389th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron Commander. “We want to bring awareness to all ranks, AFSCs and show the diversity of the aircrew assigned to the 332 AEW.”
This briefing was open to any Airman, officer or enlisted, that is interested in pursuing a flying career.
“We come from all walks of life, some of us were inspired to be aviators since childhood, and others found that desire along the way,” said James. “If aviation is your dream, seek out folks who have walked that road and get their advice.”
The Airmen were briefed by pilots from multiple airframes about their aircraft and the path they took through pilot training.
“We all have different stories and sometimes our experiences can help relate to the journey that you are on,” said James. “We need to find that spark of interest in the young Airmen and foster that flame through knowledge and encouragement.”
Recruiting aircrew is of high importance to the U.S. Air Force. Being in a deployed environment provides a great opportunity for Airman to access their goals, network and ask questions.
“The information brief meets the needs of the Air Force through rated retention and recruiting,” said James. “We all must do our part to ensure that we maintain experience and recruit future Air Force warriors who will eventually replace us on the battlefield.”
With vast experiences, aviators used this time to encourage all Airmen to achieve their aviation goals.
“In the 389th EFS we have aircrew who were prior enlisted Airmen and Marines of differing backgrounds”, said James. “Whatever your dream is, never give up hope, keep believing in yourself and surround yourself with positivity.”
An interest in flying led a 332nd Airmen to create a club for future aviators to continue to meet in this setting.
“I always wanted to be a pilot, and I had kind of let my aviation dream die over the years,” said
Staff Sgt. Michael Carpenter, Vehicle Search Area Member, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.
The Future Aviator club will help gather interested Airmen into a group where they can then get together with mentors and guest speakers regularly to help them continue their journey to fly.
“It is kind of intimidating trying to start on the pilot pathway, especially in the military,” said Carpenter. “A lot of the enlisted people want to start it, but they may not be in a career field where they get face to face interaction with the pilots.”
Carpenter hopes to continue an open conversation that cultivates a mentoring relationship between future aviators and pilots at the 332nd.
“In the club, we can ask pilots questions without barriers,” said Carpenter. “They can give insight into what hardships they faced so that they can help ease the process for future aviators.”