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Three WY Air Guard Airmen reenlist in ceremony with Director of ANG

  • Published
  • By Sgt. Meredith Vincent, Public Affairs Specialist
  • Public Affairs Specialist, 197th Public Affairs Detachment
When Master Sgt. Mark Withers first decided to reenlist for the Wyoming Air National Guard, he did not expect it to be anything out of the ordinary.

With 30 years of service under his belt, Withers has seen his fair share of reenlistments; this was old news for the Cheyenne father of three.

So when he received a call asking if he'd be willing to participate in a special ceremony during the Thunderbird show at Laramie County Community College Wednesday, he was surprised. Even more unexpected - the enlisting officer would be the Director of the Air National Guard, Air Force Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III.

"It was definitely a unique experience," said Withers. "I think if anybody gets the opportunity to do this, they should - it's once in a lifetime."

Withers was joined by two other reenlisting Wyoming Air Guard Airmen and 13 active-duty Air Force recruits. In front of a crowd of hundreds of spectators, the future and current Airmen lined up in the closed-off street, ready to take their oaths. After being introduced, Clarke addressed the audience, thanking them for their support.

"I appreciate the opportunity to do this," Clarke said. "I appreciate the opportunity to be here and I appreciate the great hospitality here in Cheyenne."

As family members and the audience looked on, Clarke swore in first the reenlistees, then the new recruits. Senior Airman Andy Vang, of Nebraska, said the event was a much bigger spectacle than his previous enlistment.

"There were a lot more people," said Vang, a six-year service member. "Doing it in front of a crowd of people was definitely more nerve-wracking."

Directly following the ceremony, the Airmen took a seat at a table nearby to sign their reenlistment paperwork. They reflected on their own initial enlistments after standing near the new recruits. What words of wisdom would they pass down to a new generation of Airmen?

"The main thing would be to pursue an education while you're in the military," said Withers. "The nice thing about being in the Air Force is you can change career fields anytime you want. You can get a vast knowledge built up in several different career fields."

That know-how and expertise can easily be translated into a career outside the Air Force, continued Withers.

"If you don't make the military your career, you still have all that experience [to use] in the civilian world," he said.

The ceremony was just one of the many stops on Clarke's agenda while in Cheyenne. On Tuesday he toured the Wyoming Air National Guard facilities, including the recently-renovated Building 16 and the 153rd Maintenance Squadron. While at LCCC, he visited not only with the enlisting Airmen, but also the Thunderbird staff, accompanied by Wyoming National Guard Adjutant General Luke Reiner. However, for the three reenlisting Airmen, it was this morning that will stick out for years to come.

"It was a great experience," said Vang. "Definitely another story to tell."