Hickam AFB Airman Makes History with STARR Program Achievement

  • Published
  • By Joe Gangemi
  • Air Force Recruiting Service

Airman 1st Class Ethan Tran, stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, has made history by becoming the first individual to receive a second Air and Space Achievement Medal through the STARR program for referring three enlisted accessions applicants who have departed for basic military training.

Part of the Airmen and Guardian referral program, the STARR program authorizes enlisted service members up to senior master sergeant and officers up to lieutenant colonel to receive up to two Air and Space Achievement Medals for referring three enlisted accession applicants. Airman Tran's efforts have set a new benchmark, as he has referred 15 individuals, three of whom have successfully shipped to basic military training.

Tran, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in November 2015, lived in Syracuse, New York, before joining the U.S. Air Force in January 2023. His decision to join the Air Force was influenced by a desire to continue a family tradition of military service. His grandfather served in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, and his uncle is an officer in the U.S. Army.

"I joined the U.S. Air Force to serve the country, take advantage of career and education opportunities, and step out of my comfort zone to see the world," Tran said.

Tran's success in the STARR program is largely attributed to his commitment to sharing the benefits of military service, particularly with his friends from Vietnam. "As an immigrant and non-native English speaker, I understand the difficulties in finding information about joining the military and connecting with a recruiter," he explained.

At 29 years old, Tran believes his age and experience in the Air Force have helped him connect with potential recruits. "My experiences have made it easier for me to share information and connect with people, who then spread the information to others," he said.

Looking to the future, Tran expressed interest in becoming a recruiter to assist the Vietnamese community and others further. "I would like to be a recruiter who can speak both Vietnamese and English to help our community," he said.

Tran's motivation is driven by the Air Force's core value of "Excellence in all we do." He aims to be the first Airman to earn the Air and Space Commendation Medal under the STARR program by successfully referring five applicants who join. Tran's dedication is an inspiring example of commitment and service to the Air Force and the broader community.

More information on the STARR program can be found in DAFMAN 36-2806 and Stripes for Referrals in DAFMAN 36-2032.  

To submit referrals via application:
- Download the Aim High Application on your mobile device
- Create an account using your full, first and last name, and your .mil email address
- Open the application and look for the three horizonal lines at the bottom right labeled, ‘more’
- Select “more” and scroll to the bottom, and select ‘Refer a Friend’

Applications must be submitted through the Aim High application to qualify for the Air and Space Achievement and Commendation Medals. All users must create an account and input needed information in the ‘Refer a Friend’ portion of the app to receive credit for valid referrals.

To learn more about full and part-time opportunities in joining the Air and Space Forces, visit our website www.AirForce.com or www.SpaceForce.com. To speak with a recruiter near you, click here.