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Patriotic Article
Troops and Veterans
By USAF Maj. Karen Roganov

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New Recruits Enlist At Chicago Air And Water Show
(August 25, 2009)

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CHICAGO (8/17/2009 - AFNS) -- Following a full-throttle aerial display by Air Combat Command's F-15E Strike Eagle Demo Team, 50 young men and women were sworn in to the United States Air Force Aug. 15 during the 51st Annual Chicago Air and Water Show.
Recruits from the Chicago area listen as Maj. Gen. Gregory Feest, commander of Air Education and Training Command's 19th Air Force at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, gives tips on achieving success in the Air Force. Following the chat, General Feest conducted the oath of enlistment ceremony with the recruits on the Chicago lakefront August15, 2009 in front of thousands of spectators attending the 51st Chicago Air and Water Show.
Recruits from the Chicago area listen as Maj. Gen. Gregory Feest, commander of Air Education and Training Command's 19th Air Force at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, gives tips on achieving success in the Air Force. Following the chat, General Feest conducted the oath of enlistment ceremony with the recruits on the Chicago lakefront August15, 2009 in front of thousands of spectators attending the 51st Chicago Air and Water Show.  USAF photo by AFROTC Cadet Raleigh Randolph
"Today has been crazy... I'm beyond excited," said Michael Leonard, 20, from Round Lake Ill., who is slated for basic military training this winter and hopes for a follow-on to technical training in the computer or signals intelligence field.

Thousands of faces on the lakefront gazed at Mr. Leonard and the other recruits while they raised their right hands to commit to a higher calling.

"I want to be part of something special," he said referring to his future service to the country.

If world-class aerial displays weren't enough to hype up the recruits for the swearing-in, they also got to visit with one of the Air Force's top fighter pilots. Maj. Gen. Gregory Feest, commander of Air Education and Training Command's 19th Air Force at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. General Feest, responsible for all Air Force pilot training, administered the oath of enlistment during the ceremony.

Prior to swearing in, the general gathered the recruits in a private huddle for some encouraging words.

After recounting his 31 years of service, the general asked how many recruits planned to stay for a full career. While the group, in their youthful twenties, pondered that question, the general added with his characteristic ear-to-ear smile, "If you're having fun, stay in!" He also quizzed the recruits on their individual future goals.

For Tom Derosa, 18, from Itasca, Ill., responsibility, a rewarding job and the money to get to that job, were immediate concerns. Mr. Derosa was unemployed from his summer job and in need of a car. He said he hopes to become an Air Force firefighter or aircraft mechanic.

He just may achieve that goal thanks to the efforts of Master Sgt. Joey Minor, 347th Recruiting Squadron flight chief, in Matteson, Ill. Sergeant Minor oversaw the logistics of getting four 15-passenger vans full of recruits from Matteson, Des Plaines, Schaumburg and South Holland to the skyscraper-backdropped flying spectacular taking place downtown.

Sergeant Minor seemed enthusiastic about his responsibilities leading a team of seven recruiters.

"I'm loving it... the best job in the world... I'm living the dream."

Apparently he wasn't the only one with high energy that day.

"Every single kid has a parent with them," he said pointing to the designated parents' front-row seating. "They know how important this was."

And if rocketing jets, a crowd from the nation's largest free air show and a general officer weren't enough, another event followed the recruits' ceremony.

While parents congratulated their children for taking the oath, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn dropped by to shake hands with a few. Of no surprise, the small group became a larger gathering and the target of a photo opportunity for the parents beaming with pride.

Article by USAF Maj. Karen Roganov
459th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs Office
Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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