Dedicated to Serving the Red White & Blue

Sam Willette, senior, is going to be leaving for Lackland Air Force Base in Texas only two days after graduating from high school. He and Army Recruiter Sergeant Fleming explain the opportunities available to those interested in enlisting.

Image+of+U.S.+Air+Force+Thunderbirds%2C+Courtesy+of+Flickr

Joe deSousa

Image of U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, Courtesy of Flickr

“Aim high, fly-fight-win,” is the well-known slogan of the U.S. Air Force. What many people don’t know about the air force is the vast array of tasks delegated to members other than piloting aircraft. 

Sam Willette, senior, is traveling to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas just two days after he graduates from Liberty. Once he finishes his training, he will go on to technical schooling before being deployed to any air base around the world. 

“At Lackland, the transition between civilian life begins. You learn skills that are fundamental to succeeding in the Air Force such as drills, ceremonies, military discipline, weapons handling, etcetera,” said Willette. 

Willette decided to join the Air Force because of the myriad of opportunities within that branch of the military; he wanted to have more autonomy than having just one delegated task. 

“I took a look at all of the branches and the jobs they offered and the air force had the most attractive jobs to me. A misconception about the air force is that they only do aviation related things, but they have doctors, dentists, lawyers, software engineers, and a whole load of other professions besides aircraft and flight maintenance. Plus they have a higher standard of life compared to other branches, and throughout your contract you earn college credits,” he explained. 

His decision to join the military came from a place of patriotism and a desire to follow his family’s legacy. 

“I decided to enlist because the opportunities afforded to you while you’re serving and after are pretty substantial. Another reason why is that both sides of my family are former military,” stated Willette. “A big reason why I’m joining the armed services is that both sides of my family have a history in the military; my mother was a Combat Medic Specialist in the Liberation of Kuwait, my father was a Sergeant stationed in Hawaii, a bunch of my uncles were Marines and Army, my mother’s father was in the Air Force and my other grandfather was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division and dropped at Normandy. They’ve been incredibly supportive of my decision to join and serve.”

While Willette is planning to join the air force, he does not plan to fly planes, which is most outsiders’ only perception of being in the air force.

“I’m actually not flying. To be a pilot, you have to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably aviation related, go through Officer Candidate School which is super competitive, then you compete for a pilot training slot, and then after you pass that course, you’ll be eligible to fly. I do not have a bachelor’s degree, nor am I really interested in flying planes. They have you make a list of at least nine jobs that you’re interested in and qualify for and for the sake of brevity, the number one on my list is Cyber Transport where you work on servers, troubleshoot cryptographic equipment, etcetera. It’s a computer hardware related job,” explained Willette. 

When asked why he feels that it is important to serve, Willette responded: “It’s a call to be a part of something larger, of great honor. My forefathers have answered that call and I should too.”

It’s a call to be a part of something larger, of great honor. My forefathers have answered that call and I should too.”

— Sam Willette

For anyone who is considering enlisting, Willette’s advice for you is this: “It’s a big decision; do your research and talk to your loved ones to see if they are okay with it.”

Sergeant Alana Fleming is the Army Recruiter at Liberty. Army Recruiters are available to talk to any students interested in service, and can help through the process of enlisting. 

“The best advice I can give is to talk to a Recruiter.  We have the most up to date information on jobs available, bonus money that you may be eligible for and can tailor the conversation directly to you. My job is not to convince people to join the Army, it is to offer information and help you join if that is what you want to do. If you’re nervous about the meeting, take a friend or your parents,” said Fleming. 

Fleming shared the requirements for the U.S military and how they are applicable to Liberty students. 

“The general requirements for joining the Army include: age 17-39; a junior or senior on track to graduate or a HS graduate or GED holder; in good health (able to pass a sports physical), no major law violations, and you have to pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude and Battery test (ASVAB),” explained Fleming.

A Row of American Flags on Memorial Day (Courtesy of Picryl)

Fleming stressed that there are many different duties within the military. Anyone interested in serving and is unsure how they wish to do so should look into the many varied opportunities that the military provides. 

“The Army has so many positions/jobs available that there is a spot for every kind of student. We have jobs in all of the popular fields, Arts & Media, Medical, Engineering, Mechanics and many more. Students who don’t know what they want to do after high school should definitely meet with a Recruiter to learn more about their options and even students who have it all figured out could benefit from information on the Army Reserve that might be able to help supplement their plan,” stated Fleming. 

There are many benefits that come along with serving after high school.

“There are numerous benefits to serving in the Army after high school.  The Army could offer you a full-time career (that you pick) with no experience needed, travel opportunities, free housing, free medical and dental care, retirement plans, money for college (GI Bill and Tuition Assistance). If you are looking for a stepping stone, then the Army Reserve part-time job (that you pick) offers money for school (Reserve select GI Bill), discounted medical/dental insurance, all for 2 days of work per month.  Of course this is not an exhaustive list but a good start to what is offered,” said Fleming. 

One program that college-bound students may be interested in is the ROTC program. ROTC stands for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and their mission is to train and expose students to military level training. Through ROTC, students can gain scholarships, opportunities, and will be prepared to enter the military at Officer level. 

“ROTC is a unique class and experience offered at many large colleges and universities and can be for different branches of the military.  ROTC teaches you about military history, customs and courtesies and basic skills all soldiers need to know and demonstrates how the Army performs Physical Training.  You can try ROTC at the beginning of your college experience but this does not mean that they are paying for your tuition.  ROTC programs do offer scholarships but they are very competitive.  If you are interested in serving in the Army and going to college, you should look at the Army Reserve and doing ROTC as a part of the Simultaneous Membership Program.  The benefit is that the Army will help you pay for tuition and after you finish your degree you would be eligible to commission as an officer,” explained Fleming. 

Anyone interested in the military, or the ROTC program should contact Sergeant Fleming for more information at [email protected] by email. If you are interested in joining the air force like Sam, you can find more information on “aiming high” at the following website: https://www.airforce.com/.

Good luck to Sam Willette and all others who are considering enlisting. Thank you for your dedication to service, and, in army lingo, “Hooah!”