Kentucky Air Guard swears in new recruits at mass enlistment ceremony

Story by Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Col. Greg Nelson (right), commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, and Chief Master Sgt. Curtis Carpenter (left), wing command chief, greet new recruits during a mass-enlistment ceremony held Sept. 20, 2011, at the Kentucky Air Guard Base in Louisville, Ky. The eight new recruits will be trained for a broad spectrum of responsibilities, from public affairs to aircrew duty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Philip Speck)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Eight new recruits took the Oath of Enlistment during a mass swearing-in ceremony Sept. 20 at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base, joining the 123rd Airlift Wing to fill a variety of jobs from military journalist to aircraft loadmaster.

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Kaleb Henry takes the Oath of Enlistment during a mass swearing-in ceremony held Sept. 20, 2011, at the Kentucky Air Guard Base in Louisville, Ky. Henry, who most recently worked at a college textbook rental firm, will serve as a C-130 loadmaster in the 123rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Philip Speck)

Kaleb Henry, one of those new enlistees, will soon depart for training at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., where he will learn how to load cargo on a C-130 Hercules aircraft, the 123rd Airlift Wing’s workhorse military transport plane. The wing uses C-130s to provide intra-theater airlift in support of homeland security, disaster response and military operations all over the world.

Henry, who has a degree in criminal justice and most recently worked at a college textbook rental firm, became interested in the Air Guard after meeting a number of Kentucky Airmen through a family member.

“I liked how they carried themselves and how they approached things,” Henry said. “It kind of made an impression on me, and I decided I wanted to join the unit. I hope to learn more about myself, travel in my job as a loadmaster, meet new people and experience the world.”

Prior to swearing in the recruits, wing commander Col. Greg Nelson told them to expect a purpose-filled tour.

“The unit you’re about to join is the best tactical Airlift wing in the United States Air Force, hands-down,” Nelson said. “When we need you, we will call on you to support the Commonwealth of Kentucky here at home or the President of the United States in the destruction of our enemies abroad. I thank you now for the commitment you’re about to make.”

This latest class of recruits keeps the 123rd Airlift Wing at 100 percent of authorized manning for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, said Master Sgt. Tommy Caruso, Base Recruiting Office supervisor. Such full staffing is not uncommon for the 123rd, which consistently meets or exceeds its recruiting goals year after year while Air Guard units in other states struggle to enlist new Airmen, he noted.

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Col. Greg Nelson (right), commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, prepares to swear in eight new recruits at a mass-enlistment ceremony held Sept. 20, 2011, at the wing’s Louisville, Ky., air base. The unit flies C-130 aircraft and provides intra-theater airlift in support of homeland security, disaster response and military operations around the world. The new recruits will be trained for a broad spectrum of responsibilities, from public affairs to aircrew duty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Philip Speck)

“I think that’s a reflection of the excellent reputation our wing enjoys,” Caruso said. “We’re one of the most decorated units in the United States Air Force, with 14 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards to our credit. And people enjoy working here. Our members are happy, and they tell their friends and family.”

In addition to the excellent working environment, new recruits enjoy free tuition at state-supported colleges, universities or trade schools; and G.I. Bill benefits of up to $350 per month for full-time students for a period of 36 months, Caruso said.

“We offer a lot of exceptional benefits, unsurpassed training opportunities and the chance to serve with an outstanding unit, both at home and overseas,” he said. “That’s a compelling combination for young men and women who want to make a difference in their own lives and the world at large.”

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