Master Sgt. Angela Wilson

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lucretia Cunningham
  • 192nd Wing

“When I graduated [in 2008], I made history as the oldest person to ever graduate Air Force basic training. I had my 40th birthday while we were at Warrior Week. So, of course we’re all marching out there and the whole flight is saying ‘happy birthday!’ It was really a nice, kind of tear-jerker moment for me. Everyone acknowledging my birthday while I was there was just like ‘wow!’

When I joined the military, I was working as a contractor at Joint Force Headquarters in Missouri. While I was there, a recruiter started trying to get me to join, but I had already passed the age limit. At one point, the Air Guard sent in a waiver and somehow it got approved. It wasn’t until I got to basic training that they realized the waiver hadn’t gone up the chain like it was supposed to. But by then, it was too late—I was already three or four weeks in.

Other trainees didn’t realize [my age] because it wasn’t like I looked old or anything. I just kind of made sure that I fit in and tried to stay under the radar. I was fast, I could run—it was more of a mental challenge for me than anything else. Physically and academically, there wasn’t an issue at all. My T.I. [training instructor] was 25 and I was 39, and he was like, ‘how is this supposed to work?’ There I was, this 40-year-old serving with all of these 17- and 18-year-olds...but I graduated, and I was in the top-percentage of my class.

It was tough, but I got through it. I learned from that experience, more than anything, is it’s never too late. I was able to do what I needed to do to get in, and I was able to do what I needed to do to get out—my focus was on graduating. I was able to do something I wanted to do at 18 years old, but I couldn’t at the time because I had babies and got married. But I was able to do it! I always wanted to be in the Air Force—that had been my dream.”

— Master Sgt. Angela Wilson, 192nd Force Support Flight installation personnel readiness senior noncommissioned officer in charge.