Graduation gowns to Air Force blues

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Beth Kobily
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

After being in the military for some time, you start seeing familiar faces in places you least expect them. On a deployment, you may run into someone who you went to technical training with; the newest member of your shop may have cross-trained since you were stationed across base from each other at a previous duty station; and you may find that you have mutual friends with about 90 percent of the members of your career field.

Two of the 911th Airlift Wing’s newest recruits experienced this before being issued their first pair of combat boots. Trainee Desiree Bouch and Trainee James Choff spoke with Staff Sgt. Amy Busenbark, recruiter with the 911th Airlift Wing Recruiting Squadron, on separate occasions before graduating together from Burgettstown High School this spring, and both have since raised their right hand to become members of the Air Force Reserve.

“I didn’t even know he was joining, I actually found out from my recruiter,” said Bouch. She says the decision to join was a last minute one for her, but one she is very excited for.

From sitting next to each other in homeroom to being wrestling co-captains, Busenbark described these two as two peas in a pod. She said she was working with Bouch first when, a few weeks in, she was put in touch with Choff who called the Air Force Reserve recruiting hotline.

As she was going over prequalification questions with Choff, he mentioned to Busenbark that he was graduating from Burgettstown High School. She said she didn’t make the connection right away, but the next day she asked Bouch if she knew Choff and found out that, in fact, she did.

As it turned out, the two had gone to school together pretty much their entire lives. To finish out their school days, both recruits represented the Air Force Reserve together at their graduation ceremony, wearing Air Force blue sashes over their graduation gowns. Choff says that he expects joining the military to be a good opportunity for both himself and Bouch.

“Every day I get phone calls from students such as Desiree Bouch and James Choff. Those who want to serve this great nation who, in return, are given a chance and endless opportunities to learn and develop a trade that they can take back to their daily life and job, and utilize to improve their quality of life,” said Busenbark.

With Bouch joining the 911th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and Choff joining the 911th Civil Engineering Squadron, they won’t be working in the same shop, but we’re sure to see them, on occasion, sitting together at the dining facility over unit training assembly weekends.