KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.-- Originally from Illinois, Airman 1st Class Justin Laughlin said he fell in love with the mountains and weather in New Mexico.
Last year he enlisted in the New Mexico Air National Guard’s 150th Maintenance Squadron to create a consistent life here.
“I wanted a career I could actually build upon instead of just going place to place, job to job. That is why I felt the Guard would be a better fit for me,” Laughlin said.
“As to why I joined, my brother is definitely my biggest motivation. He pushed me toward the Guard. So far I don’t regret it at all, but another reason was I wanted something long-term, something stable,” Laughlin said.
When asked why he chose maintenance, he said, “I am definitely hands on. I’m not very much of a ‘sit at a desk’ kind of person. I can stay attentive if I stay busy and do things with my hands. That really is the main thing, and I find it interesting as well.”
In the short time Laughlin has been in the military, he’s grown to consider the NMANG as his family.
“I’ve met people’s families and I’ve gotten so close with them that you know I would do anything for them at this point. I cherish that mainly over anything else,” he said.
Laughlin’s goal is to enter active duty in the Active Guard Reserve program, but for now, he said he wants to become “well versed, well-practiced as far as machine operations goes, as well as welding and many of the other things. I want to be the go-to-guy at the shop for sure.”
Looking ahead, Laughlin said, “Staff sergeant within five years I believe is obtainable. There is no reason I shouldn’t as long as I stay the course, stay busy, stay focused, and then from there just stay hungry and keep moving forward is the main goal.”
In New Mexico, he’s found his ideal backdrop for his endeavors.