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Meet the Member: Airman 1st Class Kenneth Lassiter Jr.

Tech. Sgt. Jovan K. Tate, a 111th Force Support Squadron retention office manager assistant, runs through a checklist with Airman 1st Class Kenneth Lassiter Jr., on left, and Airman 1st Class Xavier G. Lassiter, both members of the 111th Attack Wing Student Flight and slated for the 201st RED HORSE Squadron, Det. 1, at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pennsylvania, May 15, 2016 . Tate explained the benefits that will be available to fuel their future upon returning to the unit after Air Force Basic Military Training and technical training school. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Shaffer)

Tech. Sgt. Jovan K. Tate, a 111th Force Support Squadron retention office manager assistant, runs through a checklist with Airman 1st Class Kenneth Lassiter Jr., on left, and Airman 1st Class Xavier G. Lassiter, both members of the 111th Attack Wing Student Flight and slated for the 201st RED HORSE Squadron, Det. 1, at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pennsylvania, May 15, 2016 . Tate explained the benefits that will be available to fuel their future upon returning to the unit after Air Force Basic Military Training and technical training school. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Shaffer)

HORSHAM AIR GAURD STATION, Pa. -- Airman 1st Class Kenneth Lassiter Jr., a member of the 111th Attack Wing Student Flight here, enlisted into the Wing's 201st RED HORSE Squadron, Det. 1, recently.

Although just beginning his military career, he's no stranger to the military or the benefits one can gain from service. The family-orientated 21-year old enlisted into the Pennsylvania Air National Guard to gain valuable military experience, hands on training and funding for college.

Family Ties

Growing up in a large, close-knit family with a rich military heritage, enlisting into the armed forces felt like destiny, said Kenneth. His father was a former active duty Air Force member, who later joined the Pennsylvania National Guard, and has been his biggest proponent to join.

Kenneth's younger brother Airman 1st Class Xavier G. Lassiter is also a member of the 111th Attack Wing Student Flight and is slated to enter the 201st RED HORSE Squadron here as well. "[My brother and I] have a lot family in the military: our father, our oldest sister is in the Army and our brother-in-law is in the Air Force, so that's part of the reason we joined.

"The other part was the cost of college has gotten very expensive and we don't want to be in debt, as that seems to be a major issue for students today," said Kenneth, a current Ambler, Pennsylvania, resident.

Like-minded siblings

"I don't want to be another college graduate that's leaving college with all this debt enabling me from being able to enjoy all the hard work I've just put in,"  said Kenneth.

Xavier said that he agrees with his older brother on the reasons as to why they enlisted merely months apart. "I was accepted to the University of Science in Philadelphia to study pharmaceutical sciences and even with my scholarships and financial aid it would've still cost me $16,000.00 a year in tuition," said Xavier, a recent graduated of Wissahickon High School, Pennsylvania. "It's really ridiculous what the cost of a college education has become these days and depending on what you want to study it could cost even more."

The siblings are not only trying to be fiscally responsible. They also joined the Wing for the real-world technical training, which could prove invaluable in the future.


Strong Work Ethics

"That's the other thing about the military, not only do they provide funding for college but they pay for you to go through technical training school for a trade that you can use in the private sector," said Kenneth. "For me that's construction and pavement, I can get certified while I'm in school and work professionally in my military career field in the private sector so I can keep my college expenses down, which was another reason why I enlisted."

The level-headed brothers said they enthusiastically look forward to completing Air Force Basic Military Training along with their technical training schools, so they can get back to their shops and start contributing to the mission.

"My thoughts are pretty much just like [Kenneth's]...I chose structures because I enjoy hands-on work and I'm pretty handy," said Xavier. "It's something I can definitely use in the private sector, I could become a private contractor if I wanted." The now 19-year old enthusiastically echoed his oldest brother's thoughts on getting through BMT and technical training so that he can return to the unit and his shop hit the ground running.

Xavier said he's hoping to gain a little more insight into what to expect from BMT and technical training as Kenneth is leaving soon for Air Force BMT and that it will be nice to get feedback from Kenneth's first-hand experience.

Ready to Serve State, Country
 
The Lassiter brothers said that they had both been introduced to and walked around their shops with their sponsors and have met a lot of great people so far. The brothers said that they are glad they made the choice to enlist and continue their family's military lineage. "Everybody here seems really nice and has been extremely helpful, from the recruiters to everyone we've been introduced to," said Kenneth.

"Yeah, I have to agree with my brother, plus everyone here seems pretty nice and laid back," said Xavier.