GREAT FALLS — The Montana Air National Guard (MTANG) recently announced that they had one of the highest enlistment quarters in a decade.
The MTANG says that 27 people signed up in this year’s first fiscal quarter (Oct-Dec). According to MTANG, that is higher than most years during the same time period for the past decade.
Senior Master Sergeant Tyrel Cale, the Senior Enlisted Leader for Recruiting and Retention stated, “it means a lot to us. It shows that Montanans still want to serve. It’s so secret across the nation that recruiting services in every branch are having trouble finding people to join the military in general. What that shows us, is we feel a specific niche for Montana. A lot of people know about Malmstrom, the active duty across town, but not many people know about the Air National Guard. You can serve in the Air Force and be part time, and serve your community and state instead of leaving. A lot of people want to stay in their state. It shows us that they want to serve and they want to be here.”
These individuals who joined MTANG did so for a variety of reasons. Cale explained what entices people to join MTANG.
“Historically, I would say the tangible benefits such as the educational benefits, the career training, leadership training,” he said. “We have seen a big shift in our culture towards those intangibles, such as being there for your neighbor, being a part of something bigger than yourself. Serving your community and state, with a lot of different things that the Air National Guard is part of in the state. We’re here for state emergencies. Fires, floods, missing persons. That is what people are joining for now. They want to be a part of something bigger themselves.”
Below is a list of the 27 individuals who have enlisted:
- Leslie Lambert (Bozeman, MT)
- Shane Key (Livingston, MT)
- Mikayla Gardonhire (Great Falls, MT)
- Jacob Jesus (Great Falls, MT)
- Reese Mortag (Cascade, MT)
- Erica Olenick (Bozeman, MT)
- Ashton Prevette (Lexington, NC)
- Ethan Auch (Billings)
- Alexander Lopez (Great Falls, MT)
- Braedon Gager (Corvallis, MT)
- Teaka Bartley (Great Falls, MT)
- Austin Chiki (Nelsonville, OH)
- Matthew Scott (Las Vegas, NV)
- Anne Meyer (Great Falls, MT)
- Joseph Rostek (Great Falls, MT)
- Amanda Wilson (Kalispell, MT)
- Melissa Allen (Billings, MT)
- Daniel Solberg (Bozeman, MT)
- Dillon Murray (Bozeman, MT)
- Jennifer Cinq-Mars (Helena, MT)
- Ande-Nique Prentice (Kittrell, NC)
- Jacob Mannion (State College, PA)
- Montana Martin (Halsey, OR)
- Gage Woods (Great Falls, MT)
- Gabrielle Williamson (Silverhill, AL)
- Kataya Croston (Kingman, AZ)
- Jacob Spencer (East Helena, MT)
Staff Sergeant Dace Steinke has been a part of the Montana Air National Guard for nearly six years. He started his Air Force career in 2017 when he joined MTANG. He entered in the Air Transportation career field, where he loaded cargo and passengers onto cargo aircraft. He also received his Rigger Wings, which made him certified to pack cargo parachutes. While in the Guard he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Providence Great Falls. He explained his reasons for joining MTANG
“I’ve had my brother, my grandfather in the military, so it’s always been kind of something that’s been in the back of my mind, he said. “I decided to go in one day and talk to a recruiter, and I decided to join. I did that from my sophomore year of college all the way up until now, and in between my years of college, I was able to work up here full time, which really got me involved with the Wing. It got me to love working for the Montana Air National Guard on a full-time basis, and it also allowed me to continue to do what I was doing and volunteer in my community.”
With the various benefits the Montana Air National Guard has to offer, coupled with the quick start in enlistments, they are hoping to continue this upward trend, but it’s all dependent on various factors.
“We’re trying to be present in our communities,” Cale explained. “At Air National Guard, we have members from across the state in various communities from across the state. So, we’re your neighbors and we’re in your communities. We’re just trying to be present and tell our story, and tell what we’ve gotten from the Air National Guard, and find those individuals in our community that would also like to join our organization.”
For information about joining the MT ANG, click here or call 406-791-0665.
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