The 111th ATKW recruits, represents at Musikfest 2014
By Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond, 111th ATKW Public Affairs
/ Published October 04, 2014
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- The 111th Attack Wing represented the Air National Guard's recruiting efforts Aug. 2-3 during the 30th Annual Musikfest here.
At the festival composed of diverse music, artisans and vendors, Master Sgt. Kevin Watson, 111th ATKW recruiting supervisor at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., served as the ANG ambassador to the event that boasts thousands of visitors and Pennsylvania residents. The wing's recruiting office chose not to miss the opportunity to connect with a local audience.
"This event is being held literally right in our backyard," said Watson. "We're less than an hour away; so, the demographic we are going to find here is directly in tune with the prospective applicants the (Pennsylvania) Air National Guard is looking for."
The 111th ATKW's recruiting endeavor was augmented by the Air National Guard Mobile Experience.
The hands-on, immersive experience takes attendees on a tour through life in the ANG. By letting participates take simulated challenges, it that replicates real-life experiences of Air Guardsmen during basic military training, technical school and during unit training assemblies.
According to Watson, the efforts weren't merely to entertain festival patrons. The goal was to locate potential candidates in order to sustain the Air National Guard with a trained and ready force. In fact, recruiting events like the one held at Musikfest are critical in meeting this priority.
"The individuals that we're looking to attract are any prior or non-prior service applicants between the ages of 18 to 39 years old. We want people willing to go above and beyond their normal day-to-day life and be a part of something bigger than themselves," said Watson. "We're taking folks into our unit and creating a stronger, better people and we're putting them right back out into the community."
The importance of preserving the Guard force is seen in the nearly 452,000 duty days logged by National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in response to state emergencies alone last year, according to a recent report by the National Guard Bureau.
Accomplishing those missions starts with recruiting.
"We have our recruiters out there at these events, not just to entice people to enlist, but to actively seek the right people to fill critical areas," said 111th ATKW Vice Commander, Col. Jim "Chickenman" Blaydon. "Some may see a music festival as just that, but our recruiters see opportunities of connecting with potential Airmen for the 111th, and the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, in general."
And the 111th ATKW's recruiting office is at the helm of maintaining the potency of the ANG.
"This event today seems to be very near and dear to the local people's hearts; it's got a lot of history and tradition," said Watson. "Those (attributes) are very important to elements of the Air National Guard as well."
Those looking for more information about the ANG can log-on to www.GOANG.com. Individuals wanting to contact the ANG recruiting office at Horsham Air Guard Station can call 1-800-997-2264.