ANCHORAGE, Alaska --
Future Air Force Airmen from across the state of Alaska received a unique opportunity to speak with Air Force Recruiting Service leadership and to get a taste of basic military training in Anchorage, Alaska, March 13, 2018.
U.S. Air Force Col. Bob Trayers, AFRS vice commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Brian Labounty, AFRS command chief, came from Headquarters AFRS, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, to visit the state’s recruiters, speak with the Air Force hopefuls about opportunities within the service and to answer any questions they had prior to shipping out to basic military training.
“Meeting our future Airmen is really one of the most fun things we get to do,” Trayers said. “We sometimes get caught up in the day-to-day work of recruiting, so when we get to see what our recruiters are doing on the ground level and meet the people we’re bringing in – it’s a fantastic opportunity. Anybody who thinks there aren’t amazing young Americans who are ready and willing to serve is dead wrong.
“It’s so much fun to see them and watch their faces light up as you share stories,” Trayers said. “That’s what it’s all about. Recruiting is about telling your Air Force story, and everybody has a different one. So, it’s a great opportunity to share and inspire. Choosing to serve has been the greatest decision of my life, and motivating future Airmen and reinforcing their decision to serve and hear what has inspired them to join is pretty exciting.”
Labounty has served for more than 29 years and said every time he gets the opportunity to meet the young men and women who have decided to join the Air Force, he’s inspired and energized.
“I feel 20 years younger, and it’s amazing every single time,” he said. “The bench is deep. We have people coming in who are willing to do awesome things. It’s a great experience.”
The colonel and chief spoke about how much they’ve enjoyed their experiences in the Air Force, and how if they could trade places with the new recruits and do it all over again, they would do it in a heartbeat.
“They gave a lot of good insight as to the attitude you need to have to achieve excellence,” said Natalie Champagne, a Wasilla native who leaves for basic training March 27. “I really liked what the chief said about making the best of things, regardless of what you’re doing. If you’re assigned to be a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper. Be the best you can be, and you never know when that might open up more opportunities for you.”
Champagne said she thought it was interesting that neither the colonel nor chief had initial intentions of making the Air Force a career.
“They were able to achieve and grow, and now they’ve each been in close to 30 years. Speaking with them did kind of change my outlook, because I did kind of get my dream job,” said Champagne who reserved a job as a linguist. “I don’t know if I want to do my six years and get out, but now I’m thinking I want to stay in. I’m seeing the camaraderie and the family mentality, and it’s great. Each of us has such diverse jobs and paths in front of us.”
Following the discussion with AFRS leadership, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Alonso Blackman, 673d Medical Support Squadron transfusion services section chief, gave recruits a taste of basic military training. Blackman, a former basic training military training instructor, taught the recruits the basics of drill, military bearing, dress and appearance and reporting statements.
“It was extremely nerve-wracking. I was shaking,” said Champagne. “I was practicing my military bearing when he yelled at me and almost cracked. It’s a good taste of what’s to come. I think it’s all about attitude. You need to have the courage to make a decision – even if it’s the wrong decision. I’m grateful to have had this experience beforehand.”