War on Terrorism

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

9/11 didn't deter recruiter from joining Air Force

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 day."

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 attacks."

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."

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