CT Guard Airmen featured in recruiting ad

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Tamara R. Dabney
  • 103 Airlift Wing

DVIDS - News - CT Guard Airmen featured in recruiting ad

Growing up, 1st Lt. Alexandra Pagoni and 2nd Lt. Jeremi Johnson remember seeing military recruiting commercials on television. Neither of them ever imagined that they would one day be featured in one.

In April, Pagoni, a pilot assigned to the 118th Airlift Squadron, and Johnson, an Intelligence Officer with the 103rd Operations Support Squadron, starred in a commercial to promote the Air National Guard.

Members of the Air Guard are able to serve in the military part-time while pursuing full-time civilian careers. The commercial, part of the ‘Serve Your Way’ campaign, highlights how and why Air National Guard members serve in the Guard.

Pagoni began flying in private airplanes with her father, retired Lt. Col. Robert Pagoni, when she was five years old. She knew, years before she received her first official flying lesson at the age of 16, that she wanted to be a pilot. Inspired by her father, a former A-10 aircraft pilot and weapons systems officer on the F-111 aircraft, the younger Pagoni joined the Connecticut Air National Guard in 2017. Both father and daughter appear in the commercial.

“So growing up, my dad was an A-10 pilot stationed at [Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Mass.], so I was always around flying,” said Pagoni. “My grandfather was a pilot in the Air Force as well, so it's just something I've always grown up around and I've always wanted to fly.”

The Tolland, Connecticut native is stationed at Bradley Air National Guard Base, home of the 103rd Airlift Wing, located in East Granby, about a half hour away from her childhood home. Pagoni said being stationed at Bradley has afforded her the opportunity to serve with some of the most highly skilled pilots in the Air Force.

“Being part of the 103rd is a really awesome experience,” said Pagoni. “I fly with some of the most well-trained and knowledgeable pilots that the Air Force has. I've grown a lot as a pilot, and I hope to continue becoming the best pilot I can for the Wing.”

Pagoni’s long-term goal is to become an instructor pilot. She hopes to be a role model for aspiring pilots, particularly young women.

“I want to pass along what I've been taught, over the years,” said Pagoni. “I definitely know that there's a lot less female pilots than there are men and I'm hoping that, over the years, we'll get more women signed up to be pilots. I've never felt like I've been treated differently at the unit because of my gender. I'm hoping that through more community outreach, both on our side and the recruitment side, we can show that women are in the cockpit.”

The commercial features Airmen in various Air Force career fields. Pagoni expressed the importance of each Airman’s role in accomplishing the Air Force Mission to Fly, Fight, and Win – Airpower Anytime, Anywhere.

“There's so many people that allow us to go out and fly each day,” said Pagoni. From the flight engineers, loadmasters, maintenance, to intelligence, everyone is contributing to this mission to make every single flight happen. And without, we wouldn't be able to do what we do.”

While Johnson said he remembers seeing commercials for various branches of the military as a child, he did not recall ever seeing a commercial specifically for the Guard. He learned about the Guard by researching military education benefits online and speaking with his brother, who served in the Army Guard. Johnson decided to join the Connecticut Air Guard in 2014 to help pay for his college education.

“I joined because I wanted to go back to school, but I wanted help paying for it,” said Johnson. “The Air Guard looked as if it was going to be the vehicle to help me achieve that, along with serving.”

Johnson said anyone who is in search of a part-time job with benefits should consider joining the Guard.

“The Guard provides so many opportunities,” said Johnson. “If you want a part time job with affordable health care. If you want to go to school, or potentially pick up a new trade or learn something, the Guard provides you the ability to go cross train and learn a craft that you can apply to the civilian world, while still paying you at the same time.”

The Guard’s education benefits are what initially motivated Johnson to enlist. However, serving alongside and developing relationships with his fellow Airmen is what inspired him to remain in the Guard beyond his initial term of enlistment.

“The number one benefit would be the relationships that are established,” said Johnson. “I have made with the people that have been good to me mentorships people are coming behind me. But I will say number one will be the people. Along with that ability and an opportunity to serve locally.”

Looking back on his humble beginnings growing up in Waterbury, Connecticut, Johnson credited the Guard for giving him a greater outlook on his life.

“The Guard helped me see the potential in myself,” said Johnson. It taught me to tap into everything that is within me, as opposed to letting it go to waste. It has given me a lot more discipline and opened my eyes to things that I've never been able to see before.”

The commercial was released to the public in June 2021. To learn more about joining the Air National Guard, visit goang.com.