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162nd members make buddies into wingmen

Master Sgt. Mark Franklin (right) explains how the hush houses on base help the wing safely and quietly test F-16 engines. The recruiting effort successfully showcased several job opportunities for the 25 ‘buddies’ that participated April 5. Three of the visitors initiated the enlistment process that very day, and several others asked recruiters to follow up with them. (Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Sarah Flint)

Master Sgt. Mark Franklin (right) explains how the hush houses on base help the wing safely and quietly test F-16 engines. The recruiting effort successfully showcased several job opportunities for the 25 ‘buddies’ that participated April 5. Three of the visitors initiated the enlistment process that very day, and several others asked recruiters to follow up with them. (Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Sarah Flint)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Friends and family of 162nd Fighter Wing members received an unprecedented opportunity April 5 to participate in the first Bring a Buddy to Drill day here.

The event was focused on attracting non-prior military recruits in an effort to meet recruitment standards and to also "grow our own," said Master Sgt. Teresa Denogean, recruiting office supervisor. 

More than twenty "buddies" participated in the event, along with student flight members. Airman 1st Class John Greer, an avionics technician, brought three of his buddies.

"We knew the people coming would be focused leads - more than just a little curious and wanting to find out how to proceed," said Master Sgt. Brian Jones, recruiter.

During the event the participants were given in-depth military benefit briefings, toured the Hush House and felt the awesome power of an F-16 during an engine test, and then enjoyed lunch at the award-winning Desert Rose Dining Facility.

The day continued with a trip through Hanger 12, aerospace ground equipment and engine shops, and a final stop at the Operations Group.

At Ops, Senior Master Sgt. David Crocker, command post superintendent, described how smart camera tracking technology is capable of recognizing a particular event, such as a person dropping a package, and then following that person for up to a mile away.

Some visitors had no intent on enlisting, but the exposure to the unit changed a few people's minds. According to recruiters, the best way to expose people to the mission is to invite them out to let them see for themselves.

"Some of the visitors had seconds and even thirds in the dining facility," said Master Sgt. Johnny Martinez, recruiter. "'We never knew the food was this good,' was a comment I received. That was just one example of how we changed perceptions in the minds of these non-prior service leads."