Siblings Serve Side-by-Side In 180th Fighter Wing
by U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker
The Guard Family is a well-known phrase throughout the Air
National Guard, highlighting the close-knit relationships built
while serving as members of the Air National Guard, often times
serving entire 30-year careers with the same unit.
true meaning to the phrase, Senior Airman Arika Hoffman and her
brother, Senior Airman Alex Hoffman, decided to embark on a journey
of military service together, enlisting with the Ohio Air National
Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing in 2015.
Senior Airman Arika
Hoffman, a client systems technician assigned to the Ohio
Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing, and her brother,
Senior Airman Alex Hoffman, a tactical aircraft mechanic who
is also assigned to the 180FW, began their military careers
together in 2015. (Air National Guard photo by USAF Senior Master
Sgt. Beth Holliker)
“I always kind of knew I would end up serving in the military,”
said Senior Airman Alex Hoffman, a tactical aircraft maintainer
assigned to the 180FW. “But my decision to join the Air Force came
after considering a few different options. I talked to both the Army
and the Navy, but my dream of flying led me to choose the Air Force,
and the ANG, so I could pursue a college degree as well.”
Knowing that serving in the military had always been something they
both wanted to be a part of, after choosing the ANG, it was Arika, a client systems
technician assigned to the 180FW, who suggested they do it together.
Side-by-side, the Hoffman siblings headed to Basic Military
Training, conducted at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, conquering
all of the challenges that came their way before heading off to
their respective career technical training.
“We joined about
a month a part,” Arika said. “But, we were fortunate enough to
experience basic training together, watching each other get yelled
at or get made fun of, and having our family fly down to watch us
The Hoffman’s are no strangers to
military service and are following in the footsteps of several
family members who have served before them, in four of the five
military branches that make up the U.S. Armed Forces. Arika and
Alex’s older brother is currently serving in the U.S. Air Force and
their cousin is serving alongside of them at the 180FW as an F-16
pilot assigned to the wing.
Now, nearing their four-year
anniversary of military service, both Arika and Alex couldn’t be
happier with their decision to enlist.
As a client systems
technician, Arika’s primary role is to assist unit members with
various IT, or information technology, related questions or
problems. She assists with setting up user accounts, installing
drivers, fixing printers and helping members navigate through basic
“The things I enjoy the most are
the people and the challenge the job brings each day,” Airka said.
“I joined the communications flight with very little IT knowledge. I
was nervous and very excited to learn something new. I have been so
lucky to work beside some pretty amazing people and being able to
learn from everyone in the communications flight as well as getting
to know so many other influential people here at the 180FW.”
As an aircraft maintainer, or crew chief, Alex’s primary role is to
oversee the status of his assigned F-16 fighter jet and ensure it
remains in the most mission capable condition possible. He is
responsible for the daily maintenance and service of the aircraft,
scheduled inspections and maintenance of the main systems of the
jet. He is also responsible for having knowledge of various
specialized aircraft systems and coordinating service requirements
with the sections on base that maintain those systems, including
avionics, hydraulics, fuels, propulsion and structural.
favorite part of the job is the constant challenge,” said Alex.
“Every day brings something different than the last and keeps me on
my toes. Also, launching the jet out after a few days of in-depth
maintenance and seeing it take flight, knowing that all of the hard
work you put in made it happen. It gives me an overwhelming sense of
Both of the Hoffman siblings have learned
and accomplished so much in their short time in the military, most
significantly, being hired as fulltime employees at the 180FW.
For Alex, being assigned to and named as the dedicated crew
chief for aircraft tail number 0527, becoming the person primarily
responsible for all aspects of a particular aircraft, has been his
most important accomplishment yet.
“When I got back from
technical school, I barely understood the basics of what it took to
be a crew chief,” Alex said. “I looked up to everyone above me and
tried my best to learn from each of them. It’s because of them that
I am even able to hold such a title and I can only try my best to
uphold everything it means to be a dedicated crew chief.”
Earning a military coin during her first deployment, from a senior
noncommissioned officer, outside of her primary career field, has
been deemed one of Airka’s biggest accomplishments to date as coins
are often presented to Airmen recognized for outstanding performance
When one of the unit’s primary computer
systems, used for processing military pay for unit members, went
down, Arika pulled her knowledge, reached out to colleagues from the
field and came up with a plan to rectify the issue. She was able to
help each member on the trip to process pay documents before the
unit returned back to home-station.
“I was back from
technical school for just about a year when I found out that I would
be supporting a two-week deployment with the aviation package,”
Arika said. I was so nervous, I didn’t feel prepared and I knew very
few people outside of the communications flight. It may seem like a
little task to some, but to me, it proved that I was capable of
tackling the issue at hand and getting it done.”
serving fulltime with the 180FW, Arika and Alex plan to make a
career out of their military service and are excited to what
opportunities will come in the future and to making lifelong
memories together and with their new Guard Family.
It was on
a recent deployment to Patrick Air Force Base, Florida that
highlighted the Guard Family concept.
“There was just
something special about the trip,” said Alex. “We were working hard
and flying a lot, but I was having just as much fun at work as I was
playing volleyball with everyone after work. It really highlighted
to me what it is that I love so much about being in the 180FW. We’re
just one big family and there is nothing we cannot accomplish
For Arika, the Guard Family concept is also
important to her, but it’s serving alongside of her brother that
means the most.
“I’d honestly have to say that the most
important memory I’ve made so far is graduating BMT alongside my
brother,” said Arika. “It’s not something that I think many others
can say and I will forever cherish the fact that we were fortunate
enough to experience such an important and life-changing event
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