Helping others helps recruiters earn top awards

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

“I can see myself doing this the rest of my career,” said 185th Air Refueling Wing recruiter, Master Sgt. Jerry Anderson. Anderson’s comments came on the heels of receiving several top honors at the state recruiting and retention banquet held in Des Moines, Iowa over the past weekend.


“I get a lot of satisfaction seeing people achieve some huge goals, like completing military training and completing civilian education and doing it debt free!” Anderson added.

Because of his efforts in the past year as a production recruiter, Anderson earned the top recruiter award for the Iowa National Guard, in addition to several other accolades.  

As the lead recruiter at the Sioux City, Iowa based Air Guard unit, Anderson was also awarded a Centurion Award for toping 100 career enlistments. He earned the Mission Maker Award for meeting the Adjutant General’s annual recruiting challenge of enlisting 110 percent of his goals. Anderson also received Recruiting and Retention Noncommissioned Officer of the Year tributes for the Iowa Air Guard.


Anderson said that receiving the awards were nice but he added that the entire organization is involved in the recruiting effort.


“This base helps sell itself because of the kind of people that are here,” said Anderson, when describing how prospective recruits react when he shows them around. “They and their parents are immediately put at ease, just by watching the way our people interact with each other. They see that we are one giant family,” Anderson added.

Long time 185th retention NCO, Master Sgt. George Mendoza was also honored for topping 200 career enlistments. In addition, Mendoza received a longevity award for working in recruiting for 16 years. He also received honors for his efforts as the top health professions recruiter, as well as earning the Patriot Award for achieving the highest retention rates in the state.


At the same event, 185th recruiter Senior Airman Hunter East was awarded the Adjutant General’s Mission Maker Award for exceeding 110 percent of his recruiting goals.


The entire 185th ARW recruiting team was also awarded the Patriot Team award. Master Sgt. George Mendoza, Master Sgt. Jerry Anderson, Master Sgt. Justine Piatt, Staff Sgt. Josh Drew and Senior Airman Hunter East were recognized as the top recruiting team in the state.


According to Anderson, his team needs to replace roughly one to two people each week due to attrition, primarily because of retirements. Anderson said only one percent of the population join the military. He said that his team is further hampered by a relatively sparse population in western Iowa as well as the units close proximity to other Air Guard units in Lincoln, Neb. and Sioux Falls, S.D.  He added, however, that his team is still able to attract top quality candidates primarily due to the Iowa Guards educational benefits.


Anderson said new unit members come from a variety of places like the Palace Chase and Palace Front programs. He added that prior service from any branch are also encouraged to join. He said the unit is getting a lot of high school students, primarily because of 100 percent tuition benefits in Iowa. “They are top notch. Many are student athletes. Academically they are at the top of their class and they are looking at the future and not wanting to acquire debt,” Anderson commented.

As part of the Iowa National Guard, the 185th Air Refueling Wing’s main mission is to provide mid-air refueling and air transportation support for the military at home and abroad. The Air Guard unit flies and maintains a fleet of KC-135 mid-air refueling aircraft based at the Sioux City, Iowa airport.


The mission and daily operations of the unit are supported by over 900 team members. The organization is a mixture of drill status guard members, full time federal and state employees, as well as full time members of the active guard.

Anderson said virtually any job that is needed to operate a small town is an integral part of the Air Guard’s mission.  In Sioux City there are jobs in civil engineering such as carpentry and plumbing. Jobs such as firefighters and police protection are also needed. Anderson said there are jobs available in vocational trades such as fabrication, vehicle mechanics, and supply specialist as well as telephone and computer network operations. He also mentioned that human resources, finance, chaplain services even journalism are all important parts of the whole when the unit swells from a few hundred employees during the week to nearly a thousand on a training weekend.

There is more information available about becoming a member of the Iowa Air Guard on the 185th public website. See the "Careers" page for a brief description of eligibility requirements, contact information and a list of current vacancies.

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