Air Force Recruiters: Recruiting Squadron gives students a closer look at a career in the Air Force

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Some of the tools Air Force recruiters use to generate interest in the Air Force in younger age groups have proven very effective.

Wrapped in colorful white and blue Air Force graphics with a booming sound system, leather seats with the Air Force logo sewn into the headrests and large wheels pulling everything together to complete the eye-candy package, the 361st Recruiting Squadron's snazzy sport utility vehicle speaks volumes about the Air Force.

The vehicle is a high-tech conversation piece that travels the roads of Washington and Oregon and serves as a great tool for the recruiters of the 361st RS, said marketing noncommissioned officer Tech. Sgt. Kevin Lockridge, 361st RS.

It brings a focal point to events around the Northwest that enable recruiters to make contact with young people, Sergeant Lockridge said.

Recruiters then work to set up meetings to let young people know about their options in the Air Force, he said.

"Our ultimate tools are the recruiters themselves," Sergeant Lockridge said.

The squadron's recruiters are trained to know what the Air Force needs and what positions it is looking to fill, said standardization and training noncommissioned officer Tech. Sgt. Lori Brisson, 361st RS.

It's also the recruiter's job to make sure someone is joining the Air Force for the right reasons and if he or she will be a good fit, said recruiter Tech. Sgt. Heather Byington, 361st RS.

"I don't sugar-coat anything," Sergeant Byington said. "I make sure they know all the possibilities of what can happen to them when they join."

Framed college degrees hang on the walls of her office and a map marking the different places in the world the Air Force has taken her stand as symbols and tangible proof of what the Air Force can offer, she said.

"I like to tell potential recruits why I joined and what the Air Force has done for me," Sergeant Byington said.

Sergeant Byington said being a recruiter has been a positive experience for her because she said she gets to keep in touch with many of her recruits, constantly getting updates of how they are doing.

"So far, they're all pretty happy about their decision to join," she said.

But despite all her successes, she is still challenged at times when some uninformed high school seniors come into her Tacoma recruiting office.

"Some come in thinking they are just going to be fighter pilots right out of high school," Sergeant Byington said.

She said she manages to turn their high hopes into a realistic goal.

"I tell them I may not be able to get them right into an airplane out of high school, but just like the pilots, I can help them get a degree," she said.