Maintainers assist in recruiting efforts

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kristen Pittman
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

As recruiters across multiple Department of Defense military branches struggle to reel in prospects, several members across the 403rd Maintenance Group have taken an active approach in assisting the Air Force Reserve’s 403rd Wing recruiters. 

Master Sgt. Dustin Kane, 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, Tech. Sgt. Ashley Peer, 403rd MXG unit training manager, and Tech. Sgt. Kyle Stoeger, 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, are three of several members who have spent the past eight months or so embedding themselves in the community to reach students and career seekers and provide a firsthand account of what it’s like to serve in the Air Force Reserve. 

“This effort began after the wing commander put out a directive in response to our maintenance group’s manning percentages,” said Stoeger. “Essentially, they wanted to implement a program where we assist the 403rd Wing recruiters, so we have been visiting schools, (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs, career fairs, and other events in the local area to talk to people about what we do and the benefits and opportunities that come with joining the Air Force Reserve.” 

Stoeger said that as of this spring they had collected the contact information of nearly 400 potentially interested individuals 22nd Air Force-wide, which they provide to the line recruiters. 

In addition to outreach engagements, the group is looking forward to bringing prospective recruiting candidates to the 403rd Wing to provide a more immersive experience of what life is like as an Air Force reservist. They are currently set to host cadets from the Louisiana Civil Air Patrol who will tour the wing’s facilities and complete an orientation flight on a C-130J aircraft. 

As for their pitch to potential recruits, Kane, a prior 5th generation fighter jet avionics technician, said he really tries to hone in on the far-reaching, flexible benefits of becoming a maintainer in the Air Force Reserve.  

“The Air Force will provide you with the skills to work on their aircraft, and after that, being a reservist allows you the flexibility to either go for a job in one of our squadrons full-time, or be a traditional reservist,” he said. “Even if you decide you only want to do that one weekend a month, two weeks a year, the technical skills you’ve learned translate to the civilian sector and open up a lot of great job opportunities.” 

Neither Kane nor Stoeger sugarcoat the grueling experience of keeping the 20 C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the wing mission-ready, but both suggest that the sense of purpose, accomplishment, and satisfaction derived from the experience make it worth it --- and the travel opportunities are not so bad either. 

“Just in the past two years I’ve been to eight different countries with the 815th (Airlift Squadron),” said Kane. “If it weren’t for joining the military, I know I wouldn’t have been able to experience even a fraction of what I’ve been able to experience.” 

Beyond the career opportunities and travel perks, Peer, who started out in security forces but now manages training records for more than 500 maintenance group Airmen, attends these outreach engagements to provide information about the educational benefits of joining the Air Force Reserve and the training and development opportunities afforded throughout an Airman’s career.  

“A lot of people we talk to are interested in the educational benefits, so I like to lay out the options that come with being a reservist,” she said. “You can be a full-time student and serve your country by doing that one weekend a month, all while being able to use tuition assistance to help pay for a good bit of your education.”  

As the group’s training manager, Peer is also well versed in and able to speak to the continuous learning provided within the Air Force such as the professional military education courses that provide valuable leadership development and managerial skills as well as cross-training opportunities. 

Furthermore, all three emphasize the family atmosphere that makes up their respective squadrons and the group as a whole.   

“I know I’m just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the overall mission of the maintenance group, but from my first day, the people here have been some of the best I’ve been around in my Air Force career,” said Peer. 

Overall, the 403rd MXG is charged with maintaining the mission readiness of 10 C-130J aircraft assigned to the 815th Airlift Squadron “Flying Jennies” and 10 WC-130Js assigned to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance “Hurricane Hunters”.  

For those interested in pursuing a rewarding career field in aircraft maintenance or other career paths in the 403rd Wing, visit the Air Force’s recruiting page, the wing’s recruiting page to find a recruiter in the local area, or fill out this questionnaire.