12 Air Force reservists take oath in NYC
A dozen new Air Force reservists took their oath of service in the shadow of Lady Liberty Saturday -- a prelude to kicking off Air Force Week in New York City.
"I'm happy to be here. It's one of those moments where you feel there's a change," said Jean Desrosiers, 21 and from Elmont, who plans to serve the reserves as a medical technician. He wants to someday do the same in a civilian laboratory or hospital.
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Hailey Sampson, 17, of Brooklyn, also plans on taking a medical track and becoming a dental hygienist.
"I've always been interested in airplanes but this is also a good way to build my character," she said.
The Air Force also pays for its recruits to attend school to get a degree in their chosen career field, said Col. Michael Underkofler, commander of the 514th Air Mobility Wing.
After receiving their training, reservists spend most of their time working or attending school but must spend at least 39 days on base per year, working for the Air Force.
The new recruits will bolster the ranks of the 514th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, which draws recruits from the East Coast and the tri-state area in particular.
The wing, made up of 2,700 members, is responsible for military transport, which includes assisting with deployment and with delivering aid to areas stricken by natural disasters. The 514th has a diverse ethnic background, reflected in its commander.
"About 18 percent of our airmen are naturalized American citizens like myself," said Underkofler, who was born in Turkey. "What I think is great is . . . my parents brought me to this country and the first place I landed is McGuire Air Force Base. Forty-eight years later, I am one of the commanders there."
Air Force Week, a tradition similar to Fleet Week over Memorial Day Weekend, will include air shows, demolitions displays, exhibits of Air Force technology and operations, as well as hundreds of airmen walking the streets of the city.