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'Operation Full Strength' increases recruiting efforts

U.S. Airmen from the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, attended an air show in Chillicothe, Mo., on Aug. 22, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Ben Hedley)

U.S. Airmen from the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, attended an air show in Chillicothe, Mo., on Aug. 22, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Ben Hedley)

U.S. Airmen from the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, attended an air show in Chillicothe, Mo., on Aug. 22, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Ben Hedley).

U.S. Airmen from the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, attended an air show in Chillicothe, Mo., on Aug. 22, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Ben Hedley).

St. Joseph, Mo. -- "Everyone on this base should be a recruiter," said Capt. Ben Hedley, an air traffic controller assigned to the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron, who is leading the charge in "Operation Full Strength" on recruiting 200 new airmen by December.

Most recently, Hedley and a group of airmen represented the 139th Airlift Wing at an air show at the Chillicothe Municipal Airport in Chillicothe, Mo., on Aug. 22, 2015. The annual event caters to not only the people of Chillicothe but also other adjacent areas. 

Airmen from the 241st ATCS set up their mobile tower to showcase to patrons.

The purpose of the visit was to reach out to small populated areas and let the younger generation know that there are many career opportunities in the Air National Guard.

Hedley says there are 123 recruits still needed based on the goal of 200 new airmen. That goal was establish early this year.

"With all of our bonuses and incentives taken away, it's a lot more difficult to recruit than it was in the past," said Hedley.

Hedley says they have other recruiting events planned such as a job shadowing day, counselor day, and student career day inviting high school students to catch a glimpse of military life at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base.  

Personal referrals are how most recruits join. Hedley said after doing a survey on recently joined members, about 80 to 85 percent of new recruits joined because of referrals.

"If everybody keeps referring and talking to their family members, it will keep helping," said Hedley.