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Mass enlistment bolsters wing strength

Col. Greg Stroud, 162nd Fighter Wing commander, administers the oath of enlistment to nine new members in the wing auditorium here, Oct. 2. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Johnny Martinez)

Col. Greg Stroud, 162nd Fighter Wing commander, administers the oath of enlistment to nine new members in the wing auditorium here, Oct. 2. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Johnny Martinez)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The 162nd Fighter Wing expanded its family by nine new members during a mass enlistment ceremony here Oct. 2, in the base auditorium.

Friends and families watched the new Guardsmen as they recited the oath of enlistment administered by Col. Gregory Stroud, wing commander. All but one of the enlistees were non-prior service.

Typically, enlistments are performed in the recruiter's office one or two at a time.

"There were a lot of family and visitors, so we did the ceremony in the auditorium," said Master Sgt. Johnny Martinez, production recruiter. "The positions these recruits are filling just became available as we entered the new fiscal year on Oct. 1."

The 162nd ended the 2009 fiscal year just shy of 99 percent manning. The wing's recruiting office currently has 31 applicants waiting for positions.

When individuals are referred to the recruiters, they have the applicants take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test and complete a physical exam. They are then put on a waiting list until positions are made available.

"The challenge is to keep them interested after they pass their ASVAB and physical," Sergeant Martinez said. "We try not to lose them to other branches, so we remind them that there's a waiting list because this wing so great and that's why membership here is incredibly sought after."

In addition to the waiting list, the unit has a student flight comprised of individuals who have already enlisted - they have a position and are a member of the military but are waiting for an opening to go to basic training and technical school.

"We do everything we can to keep them involved with the unit and to keep them motivated to be a part of the wing mission. We have approximately 40 people in the student flight here," said Sergeant Martinez. "The recruiting office supervises them during drill; preparing them physically and mentally to succeed at basic training. It is time consuming, but it's worth it."

"Because of the waiting list I encourage unit members to make an appointment when they want to bring someone in who is interested in joining the unit," he said. Often the recruiters are working with other applicants when members bring in interested people as walk-ins they end up having to wait.

"Unit members need to remember that applicants have jobs - the Guard is not their bread and butter yet - and they are often on their lunch break, or they've made special arrangements, when they come in here. We want to ensure the applicant's time here is spent effectively."

To make an appointment with the recruiters call 295-7000.