JACKSONVILLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, FL -- Master Sgt. Bryan Fletcher, a 202nd RED HORSE recruiter, was named one of the U.S. Air Force’s best recruiters at the annual Operation Blue Suit Arrival Ceremony held March 2023 at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Fletcher earned the 2022 Air National Guard Top Geographically Separated Unit Advanced Recruiter by achieving a new enlistment contract rate of 164% of his annual goal.
Operation Blue Suit winners are the elite top 0.85% of all Air Force recruiters, or the best 18 recruiters out of the over 2,100 recruiters in the U.S., Germany, Italy, Japan, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. These recruiters are honored for surpassing recruitment goals and displaying the highest leadership qualities, said Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, Air Force Recruiting Service commander.
“Bryan is a go-getter who sets goals and doesn’t let anything get in his way of achieving those goals,” said Chief Master Sgt. LaTisha Conte-Murrill, Florida Air National Guard (FLANG) Recruiting and Retention senior enlisted leader. “He has been the top FLANG recruiter for the past five years and has significantly contributed to our end strength being above 100% for all of those years.”
Fletcher’s award-winning success stems from a deeply rooted connection to the 202nd RHS and its surrounding communities. The unit’s headquarters is nestled in rural Bradford County, Florida, his lifelong homestead. Fletcher’s proximity and strong propensity to serve led him to join the unit as a part-time drill status guardsman (DSG) while he sorted out his post-graduation plans. What eventually fell into place was a full-time opportunity as a power production technician while he completed his associate and bachelor’s degrees. Sixteen years later, he entered the active guard reserve (AGR) program to act on his desire to recruit the best and brightest from the community, he said.
“I grew up in a rural farm town and I think that’s why I relate so much to those who were raised in small towns as well,” he said. “I can offer an opportunity they might not have elsewhere. Some of these folks have limited options, and I try to give them an opportunity to look at the Guard. I’ve been able to share my own experiences, and I think there’s a lot of people that respect that because I come from that rural background.”
Beyond bringing a palpable sense of hometown pride to his strategy, Fletcher said he credits his success to his genuine passion for sharing his Guard story and its impact on his career and family.
“When you are passionate about something, you want to tell others,” he said. “I’ve experienced what the [Florida Air National Guard] has done for me and all the opportunities I’ve had since I began my career. From educational opportunities to financial stability, I really enjoy being in a position to help others with all the opportunities afforded by the Guard.”
Fletcher also credits his success to networking with other recruiters to exchange best practices and keep pace with the ever-evolving nature of recruiting.
“I was doing some school presentations, and I wasn’t getting a lot of good feedback from them. I talked to a recruiter in Montana, and he gave me some tips like wearing a ‘soft uniform,’ which is instead wearing a polo shirt and khakis to represent the citizen-Airman aspect. I think that really helps me to connect with students,” he said.
Another key component to connecting with applicants is following the “golden rule” of treating others as one would like to be treated, he said.
“Treating them as a human and not a number has been my biggest success story,” he said. “It’s important to get to know the individual and their interests and passions because it informs how I serve them, and it also gives them the right first impression. I also always ask my airmen after enlistment what I could have done to make their experience better. I have taken this feedback and incorporated it into my recruiting strategy. Both positive and negative feedback play a vital part in my recruiting strategy.”
The white glove service he offers throughout the enlistment process helps him to maintain a healthy pipeline of new applicants through referrals. It’s been a winning strategy in the challenging recruitment environment for recruiters in every service component, he said.
“I’d say that about 80% of my applicants are referred to me from someone that I’ve already recruited,” he said. “I was also in the operational Air Force for 16 years before becoming a recruiter. I’m a three-time deployer of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I’ve seen how life is as a DSG, technician, and AGR. So, I think being able to share those experiences gives me a little more credibility.”
Fletcher adds his latest award to a long line of recognition he’s amassed over the past eight years. This includes winning FLANG Production Recruiter of the Year, FLANG Advanced Recruiter of the Year, FLANG NCO of the Year, FLANG JFHQ SNCO of the Year, and Region II GSU Advanced Recruiter of the Year.
The sum of these parts is a recruiter who brings an unrelenting commitment to transforming the community’s finest into citizen-Airmen for the FLANG.