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Recruiter, retiree go full circle in Air Force careers

  • Published
  • By Chrissy Cuttita
  • Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs

In an example of coming full circle, the recruiter who was there for an Airman’s first oath of enlistment 20 years earlier became the presiding officer who gave the now Senior NCO her retirement certificate April 1, 2022 at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

When it came time to push the button on starting her Air Force retirement paperwork, Master Sgt. Roxy Coble was sitting in an office at Whiteman Air Force Base not far from where her military journey began in Missouri. The small town girl from the middle of Missouri never met an Airman until her family moved to a different city where she attended the University of Central Missouri near the base. 

“I met some Air Force people and it seemed like a cool job,” she said. “One of my best friend’s dad was a B-2 crew chief.”

Curiosity motivated her to take a trip to an Air Force recruiting office in Sedalia, Missouri. It was there her life’s trajectory went into a direction she never expected and she entered into a military family she never knew she could have.

“Most people you talk to don’t remember their recruiter but somehow he stuck with me,” Coble said about then Staff Sgt. Adrian Law. “He was always keeping everyone motivated and positive.”

When Coble started planning her final years of service she decided to search for Law in the directory. She discovered he now has an officer rank and, by being an officer, he could officiate her retirement ceremony.

Now a major, Law spent 15 of his 26 years of service in recruiting and processed hundreds of people in to the Air Force service, however, Coble is one name he never forgot. When he received her email, he immediately called her and accepted the invite to her ceremony.

“I remember how energetic and positive Roxy was as a person,” said Law, who is now Chief, Space Force Recruiting Branch at the headquarters Air Force Recruiting Service, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. “It is what the spirit of recruiting is all about across America. It’s a small town girl going off to do big things in a time of a lot of unknowns.”

Coble entered the Delayed Enlistment Program two months after 9/11 and didn’t ship until just after her 21st birthday in May 2002.

“I remember sitting with my dad in my small studio above the restaurant I worked in,” she said.  “We were probably having a hearty bowl of canned soup when I told him I wanted to join. He was concerned on what job I was going to do while serving but supported me.”

Coble would be the first in her family to serve in the Air Force. Two of her four brothers served in the Army. The terrorist attacks on America that launched a 20-year war overseas didn’t deter her from serving her nation.

“We discussed a broad range of mechanical jobs,” she said. “I was excited to do something you don’t get to do outside (of the Air Force). I became aircraft armament, a very niche job.”

In Coble’s last assignment she served as an F-22 Raptor weapons section chief at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and is married to a military member.

As Law read through Coble’s annual Enlisted Performance Reports to prepare to describe her career in a retirement speech, he sees the evidence of what he believed she had the potential of doing since the first day they met.

“I think a recruiter wants to keep in touch with some recruits after they form that professional relationship,” he said.  “For me, not to slight others, Roxy was at the top of that list of people. I was very confident I was delivering to the Air Force a highly-capable person who was going to be a phenomenal Airman. Roxy has really done such amazing things. What she has given to the Air Force far exceeds what we gave to her.”

Law’s first assignment as a recruiter was in Sedalia from November 2000 to September 2004.

During Coble’s seven-month wait to ship to Basic Military Training, she was already witnessing that Air Force life operates like a family or team. Coble remembers fondly what it was like to do physical fitness, volunteer work, school visits, tours on base and other activities Law led for DEP members.

“That was an early taste of the Air Force because pretty much everyone does everything as a group,” Coble said about her experience in the DEP program. “In my active duty job I always deployed as a flight. You’re not just a single person when you join up in the DEP which is why I think the memories are so vivid.”

Coble also said she looked up to Law’s wife, Sarah, who was also a staff sergeant at the time and pregnant with the first of the Law’s four children. 

“Everyone watched the news and saw people deploying after 9/11 but the Laws knew the Air Force before that,” she said. “He kept it honest and kept us motivated to realize the Air Force is a great choice if it is four years or 30 years. Just to see where I could be, what I could achieve was kind of a fresh mentorship. Throughout the few years I was in college and the couple of dead end jobs I had, no one was that beacon for me at the time.”

For Coble, Law’s mentorship continued to be a model for how to progress through the Air Force. She said what was learned at the recruiting office continued throughout her career as she mentored others. She even took an opportunity to go back to Sedalia and work under the two-week Recruiter’s Assistance Program.

“Over the years and going into the digital age, I would always tell people you can always do RAP, find your recruiter and go back home,” Coble said. “I let people know your recruiter is still there for you and you have an individual story they can use.”

“We are building advocates for the Air Force from day one,” Law said. “This is the return on investment when you do it right.”

For Law and Coble, their shared season in their Air Force journeys that started on Coble’s day-one built a life-long bond. When they get together, they share old memories and new stories about other recruits, including Coble’s distant cousin, who Law put in the Air Force.

“It’s been a great ride; the people really made this whole thing,” Coble said. “The recruiter is the first person you see, they set the first step. I’ll always be an advocate for the Air Force and I’m excited to see where the Space Force will go. 

“It’s a challenging time now but you really have to have an internal drive for what you want to do in your life and I was set up great by Major Law and had a lot of great supervisors,” she continued. “They say the days are long but the years are short. I never saw myself coming to this point so this is a really awesome ending to a career I never thought I would have.”

Coble said her retirement symbolizes her active duty service time going full circle, from cradle to grave, by having the Laws by her side. Maj. Law, his wife, Sarah, and three of their four children attended the retirement ceremony.

“Everything for me runs back to this loosely interconnected relationship with everyone you brought in to service,” Law said. “The Air Force can’t succeed with one talented person.  We succeed when holistically we all work towards mission accomplishment. That’s what makes this organization so special.”