by Staff Sgt. Hillary Stonemetz
Air Force Recruiting Service
9/9/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- While
many people may have reconsidered joining the military following the
9/11 terrorist attacks, at least one Air Force applicant never wavered.
"Not shipping to Basic Military Training never crossed my mind," said
Tech. Sgt. Ashli Betts, now a health professions recruiter assigned to
the 342nd Recruiting Squadron. She was due to ship to BMT on Sept. 11,
2001, and was picking up some last-minute supplies when she heard news
of the attacks.
"We rushed home and turned on the television," she said. "Once it all
sunk in, I picked up the phone to call my recruiter who told me he
wouldn't be able to pick me up that day. I left for BMT the following
Betts participated in Junior ROTC in high school and joined the Air
Force Delayed Entry Program while she was a senior. She had been waiting
to ship to BMT since November 2010 and had a guaranteed job as a B-52
aircraft armament systems apprentice.
"I honestly couldn't see myself doing anything else with my life," she
said. "If anything, I felt more pride in my decision to join after the
After working on the flight line on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., for
seven years she felt she was ready for a new challenge. She submitted
her application to become an Air Force recruiter.
"This job is the most rewarding and fulfilling career I believe I could ever have in the Air Force," Betts said.
Soon after she became a recruiter, Betts met Chief Master Sgt. William
Cavenaugh, AFRS command chief, when he conducted a staff assistance
visit and inspection at her squadron.
"Ashli was and continues to be one of the most professional Airmen I've
worked with," Cavenaugh said. "She personifies our 'Be a great Airman
first' philosophy. I have been impressed with her maturity and
understanding of our role within our Air Force as professional
recruiters from the moment I met her. Nothing's a secret with Ashli; she
wears integrity, service and excellence on her sleeve."
For Betts, there are many moments as a recruiter that stand out as
special. One such moment is a Texas Rangers Independence Day baseball
game. Every year, the Texas Rangers invite the 344th RCS onto the field
for a DEP swear-in.
"Three years back I was able to lead our future Airmen onto the field
and stand amongst them as they were sworn in before thousands of
people," she said. "There is nothing like being in the center of all
this patriotism. You can barely hear the anthem echoing and aircraft
flying over from the applause coming from the stands. It literally gave
me goose bumps. As a member of the U.S. Air Force I don't always step
back to marvel at what it is we actually do. It is so nice when people
out there take time to show their appreciation."
Cavenaugh added that the NCO exemplifies the American spirit.
"She joined the Air Force shortly after the events of Sept. 11, 2001,
and has spent her career doing her part. She educates young people on
our Air Force, mentoring and guiding those interested in serving through
the initial challenges like Military Entrance Processing Station and
BMT. She is inspiring and a great role model -- a great Airman."