SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.—A group of young men and women stand tall in the center of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway waiting to solidify one of the most important decisions of their lives. They will raise their right hand and say the United States Air Force oath of enlistment before thousands of people. In the crowd stands one person beaming with more pride than the rest. Without him they may not be where they are now.
As a previously enlisted recruiter of three years, 2nd Lt. Joe Giles, 436th Supply Chain Operations Squadron flight commander for tankers and special missions, impacted the lives of many by helping them become Airmen.
Now Giles works in the same unit as two of the Airmen he recruited out of Castleton, Indiana.
“My favorite thing about being a recruiter was actually being able to change somebody’s life by giving them an opportunity to join the Air Force,” said Giles. “There were a lot of people I met that didn’t have any direction, but I knew when they joined the Air Force they would get that direction and the stability they needed.”
Airman 1st Class James Koudjrohede, 436th SCOS stock control apprentice, was one of Giles’ recruits who needed just that.
“If I didn’t join the Air Force I really don’t know what I would be doing right now, and I really thank him for that,” said Koudjrohede. “He impacted my life in a really good way, and I’m glad that he did.”
Giles also works in the same unit as Senior Airman Xavier McGruder, 436th SCOS stock control journeyman, and is able to see his growth in the Air Force.
“Airman McGruder is a fantastic young man,” said Giles excitedly. “He just got coined for doing some great stuff and he is getting his education done. That was his focus before he joined, so he got his degree from the Community College of the Air Force already and is working on his Bachelor’s degree. It just makes me feel proud, like he’s a son of mine.”
McGruder shared that same enthusiasm when he described Giles as someone who is approachable and always willing to help. McGruder said he knows he can count on him to share his commissioning experience and give guidance when needed, because like Giles, McGruder is thinking about becoming an officer.
Giles joined the Air Force when he was 26 and already had a Bachelor’s degree, so it was always his goal to commission, but he said his GPA wasn’t high enough. So, he enlisted for nine years before he had the opportunity to commission.
“I worked really hard to build the whole person, as they talk about, to transition to become an officer for the leadership opportunities and for my family, but I will always be grateful for my experience in the enlisted corps. It was an honor and a blessing to be a recruiter and it’s pretty awesome that I was a part of helping the Air Force grow.”