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Recruits experience enlistment of a lifetime

  • Published
  • By Capt. Bruce Hill
  • 4th Air Force Public Affairs
Some folks talk up-front about the heroic role Airmen assume when the sky is falling or not.

Others, laid back, might think they're just doing their jobs. Either way, if you were to ask any one of the 19 new U.S. Air Force recruits that were sworn in at Rose Bowl Stadium on Saturday they will tell you they look forward to the careers that lay ahead of them in the Air Force. 

The first few hours of the day began as Air Force recruiters and their new recruits set up a recruiting tent just outside of Rose Bowl stadium prior to the UCLA/Oregon State football game. Visitors to the tent were treated to Air Force pins, stickers and other paraphernalia, and learned about careers and life in the Air Force. The new recruits shared their anticipation with the public as the recruits would take the official Oath of Office later in the day to become join the ranks as the newest airmen basics. 

"Fall in! Form up!" shouts Master Sgt. Chris McCool, a 17-year veteran Air Force Recruiter and former Basic Military Training Instructor. The recruits quickly respond, preparing themselves for the ceremony. 

Colonel Jeffery Robertson, Director of Staff, Headquarters, Fourth Air Force, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., takes his place in front of the formed-up 'civilians' to give them the official Oath of Office. 

With cameras rolling and football fans gathering around, the colonel called on the recruits to raise their right hands and repeat after him. Onlookers, witnessing what is more than a 230-year-old military tradition, stood silently, listening to the promise being made by each individual taking the oath. 

After completing the oath, the colonel congratulated and shook the hand of each new recruit for their commitment to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, welcoming them into the Air Force family of professionals. 

"It's what these kids are doing (serving in the Air Force) that allow people to do things such as come to these games and live freely at home," said Col. Robertson. "These recruits will have the chance of doing the same admirable things that many have done before them to help preserve freedom and democracy." 

Eric Resendiz, an 18-year-old new Air Force enlistee from Thousand Oaks, Calif., who eventually wants to be commissioned through the U.S. Air Force Academy, leaves for basic training just three days after Christmas. 

"I want to be an Aerial Gunner," Resendiz said. "It is a personal decision I made to serve my country. With my electronics background, I determined the Air Force would be the best fit for me." 

There are many reasons for a young man or woman to enlist in the Air Force. It provides a viable career option for those who wish to serve their country, desire to fund their college, or obtain a valuable skill. Whatever the reason, enlisting should be considered a respectable act. 

"Not everyone can put on the uniform," said David Crane of Palmdale, Calif., one of the new enlistees. "When you wear the uniform, you've earned it. Every time I see someone in uniform, I respect them. 

"Today's swearing in felt great... it gave me goose bumps," Crane went on to say. "I entered the Air Force for a better life, career and future. The Air Force will discipline me, help set personal goals and provide the path I need to succeed." 

At the start of the game, UCLA staff led the recruits and Air Force support staff into the stadium. Met by applause, cheers, and thanks, many members of the crowd showed their appreciation for the recruits and those in uniform as the military members were escorted to the sideline near mid-field for recognition. 

"Did you hear the reception as you walked by?" said Nick Welsh, Assistant General Manager for Bruin ISP Sports Network. "People stood up, applauded and some were even saying thank you. I was so moved that my eyes welled up with tears for you guys." 

From here, the Air Force recruits will get their chance to learn and understand first-hand what it takes to be Airmen. They will go through eight and one half weeks of basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, each leaving for Basic Military Training between now and the end of January. From there, each will begin a new chapter in his or her life. 

"From putting planes in the air to putting up a recruiting tent at the UCLA game it's ultimately about camaraderie," said Master Sgt. McCool, the Air Force Recruiter who oversaw the 19 enlistees for the day. "I want them to experience camaraderie and teamwork before entering the basic training environment." 

"Once you get into BMT you will not get through it alone," said McCool. "It's a concept that is necessary throughout the career. We're an Air Force family that counts on one another and I want them to know that." 

"If I had a chance to do it all over again, I'd do it twice," he said.