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349th AMW launches open house recruiting day

  • Published
  • By Rossi D. Pedroza
  • 349th Air Mobility Wing

The 349th Air Mobility Wing took a whole new approach to recruiting efforts by getting off the internet and getting personal.

You’re invited June 4th to Travis AFB: Over 150 posters advertised the upcoming open house throughout Solano County as local radio broadcasters announced the event to the community.

“In planning for this, we had a lot of meetings. The logistics in this alone is unbelievable. We had to get the timing right,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Noyer, 349th Maintenance Group commander.

Noyer said the idea was to reach out to the community and generate interest among those who may be considering joining the Air Force Reserve.

“We have the KC-46A Pegasus showing up July this year and we want to bring in new recruits in all the different areas, whether it is in sheet metal, metals technology, aerospace ground equipment, you name it.”

Noyer and his coordinators organized the open house tour into three groups. Group A consisted of local high school and technical school students from areas surrounding the base. Group B attendees were diverse in ages17 through 32, and Group C was comprised of students from the Discovery Challenge Academy located in Lathrop, Calif.

The academy’s structure is like a military school environment.

“It’s, the Challenge Academy’s, young men and women that may be struggling through high school. The discipline they are getting through the academy is helping them get through, finish up and graduate,” said Noyer. “Hopefully, with the military mindset, they can join us at the 349th Maintenance Squadron.”

Cadet Izion Miller, who attends Discovery Challenge Academy was on the open house tour with two of his classmates. He said the whole point of the school was to intervene and reclaim the lives of 16 to18-year-old high school dropouts.

“We take bad people from bad environments with bad habits, and provide them with discipline, structure and everything else you need to succeed as a productive citizen,” said Miller.

Miller said he wants to thank those responsible for scheduling the tour, and that it was informational and fun, pointing to a parked KC-10A. “We are getting ready to go on this big aircraft right here, and it’s been a very good day.”

In the planning stage, one of the goals was not to stack one group on top of another and to set the tone for the entire open house right from the beginning. “As far as I know, no one else has done this before,” said Noyer. “It seems like this event we just had turned out great. I’m real excited about it.”

Staff Sgt. Stephanie Abella was one of the core coordinators and serves as an aero repair technician with the 349th MXS. She is from the local area.

“I decided to join the Air Force Reserve because living so close to Travis, I saw the airplanes flying overhead,” said Abella. “This exposure gave me a huge fascination with aircraft. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to join.”

Abella said she and the planning team took off with Noyer’s idea of hosting the exclusive event, unlike an airshow, they aimed to give the guests actual views of the back shops in real time. The coordinators exposed the three tour groups to the jobs maintainers do daily to continue the global mission.

“It was hard work, but very rewarding. We had around 125 guests, and our maintenance team members came in on their own time to help support the open house,” said Abella. She said some of her family members have retired from the 349th MXS.

Two Discovery Challenge Academy students on tour were all smiles and shook their heads in unison when asked if they thought they would enlist. Miller also agreed with his friends.

Cadet Erick Trejo, an academy student, said he liked riding on the bus and exploring the entire base. He said they were shown old aircraft, the museum, and the fire station.

Trejo said, “Actually, I’ve been out here talking to recruiters to get information about security forces, fire protection and Air Force Special Warfare, Tactical Air Control Party (TACP).”

Cadet Alec Rodriquez said he was interested in the different types of welding demonstrated during the tour that caught his attention.

“We saw the metal inert gas (MIG), tungsten inert gas (TIG) and the oxygen and acetylene welding demos, and it was my favorite part, and it was cool,” said Rodriquez.

The open house guests learned some facts about  reserve lifestyle in the Air Force. One topic the cadets spoke about was some of the benefits mentioned, without an active-duty commitment, and returning to civilian life after scheduled tours of duty.

Lt. Col. Richie Buenviaje, 349th MXG deputy commander, is a traditional reservist. He is a laser communication engineer in his civilian career. “I have the opportunity to be in a command position and influence people,” said Buenviaje. “I move obstacles out of the way, so the maintainers can have the runway to do their jobs without distractions.”

Buenviaje said it was gratifying to witness a lot of enthusiasm and engagement from the squadron’s Airmen to be present and to be part of the open house.

“We are building stronger community relations with our civilian partners to eventually close the divide and grow appreciation for what we do, who we are, how we operate, and that we are different from a stereotypical image of the military,” said Buenviaje.

The U.S. Recruiting Service mission is to inspire, engage and recruit the next generation of Airmen and Guardians, and to promote the vision of one team, innovating to be the first choice of America’s top talent.

“Everyone is a recruiter at Travis. It’s a large wing with a hefty requirement for aerospace maintainers,” said Senior Master Sgt. Charles Wandzilak, 349th Recruiting Squadron flight chief. “When I asked for support, the 349th MXS jumped at the opportunity by offering to host an open house.”

Wandzilak said he learned a lot about maintenance during the tour and witness untapped enthusiasm among the maintainers eager to share their adventures and conversations with prospects and influencers during the BBQ lunch.

“I appreciate the 349th MXG and the all-in approach delivery of the message; there are more ways to serve,” said Wandzilak. “Travis is more than an active-duty base. To see reservists in action, hear their stories, and to experience a unit training assembly with the Airmen was priceless.”