VaANG recruiters, retention bring home regional awards

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Bryan Myhr
  • 192nd Wing

Virginia Air National Guard recruiting and retention team won three regional awards in November 2019 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. The accomplishment came the same time the 192nd Wing, the sole wing of the VaANG, reached 100 percent end strength.

As a team, they won Patriot Team of the Year, Region IV. The award recognizes the top wing recruiting and retention team, taking into account job performance, outreach programs, Airman development and community involvement. Region IV includes Air National Guard wings from Delaware, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia.

“It feels really good,” said Senior Master Sgt. Rick Dumas, VaANG state production superintendent. “There has been a lot of growth since the last time we won an award like this.”

In addition to the team award, Dumas won State Production Superintendent of the Year, and Staff Sgt. Jonquil Willard, 192nd Maintenance Squadron munitions control specialist, won Unit Career Advisor of the Year, Region IV. The UCA position is a volunteer additional duty which assists the wing retention efforts by regularly engaging Airmen about their future plans within the military.

“Between sergeant Hopkins, our retention manager, and sergeant Willard, they were pretty proactive and successful,” said Dumas.

The team got together for a group photo in front of an F-22 Raptor on the flightline at JBLE. For some, it was their first time up close and personal with the jets. Master Sgt. Lukas Hopkins, VaANG retention office manager, used to work as a maintainer prior to joining the recruiting team.

“I just feel grateful for my peers, grateful for the wing, grateful for the support we’ve been able to get,” said Hopkins. “It took a collective effort, not only with accessions. It goes to the success of the recruiters … as well as the retention side of the house too.”

Reaching 100 percent end strength in a wing is rare, in part because new missions add manpower requirements and the target for 100 percent grows. In the past decade, the 192nd Wing has added a Chemical, Bilogical, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package mission, a Cyberspace Operation Squadron and a Civil Engineer Squadron. The recruiters may face their biggest challenge yet as the Air Force has identified JBLE Langley as the candidate base for the F-22 formal training unit and its associated T-38 training aircraft in March of 2018.

“We stand ready, together with the First Fighter Wing, to successfully transition the Raptor FTU to Langley while continuing to excel in our Total Force partnerships and our F-22 combat readiness,” said Col. Mark D. Piper, 192nd Wing commander. “We rely on our recruiters and I know they are up to the challenge.”

After their group photo, Dumas addressed the team and acknowledged the shared feeling of pride and accomplishment.

“Hats off to all of you,” said Dumas. “Now, we’ll go compete at the national level … against all the other regions in the country.”