ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam – Being an Air Force recruiter can be a tough and grueling job. For one recruiter, years of hard work paid off recently when he was named one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Camper, Pacific Operations Recruiting Program Manager for the 369th Recruiting Squadron, was totally surprised to learn he was selected as one of the 12 OAY for 2020.
Recently he was asked to join a video teleconference to talk to the boss. Since he was scheduled for an upcoming TDY, he thought the call was related to his pending trip.
“My commander called me one morning and said she wanted to have a Zoom meeting with the boss. I was about to go TDY to Hawaii, so I figured it had something to do with that,” Camper said. “As soon as I called into the Zoom meeting and saw all the people I knew it had nothing to do with a TDY to Hawaii. I truly had no idea I would actually win this award. My initial thought was just ‘Wow!’”
The video call included Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, the commander of Air Education and Training Command, and Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, Air Force Recruiting Service commander, among others.
Camper’s “wow” moment felt like a lifetime away from his initial struggles at the Air Force recruiting schoolhouse at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, back in 2012.
“When I got to recruiting school, it was pretty tough for me because I was not very outgoing, so talking in front of people then was definitely not my thing,” he said. “I think it was my Day 22 lab assigned I ended up failing. When I failed, I had two people at the schoolhouse tell me that I would never be a good recruiter. I think that lit a fire under me to one day be able to tell them otherwise.”
While he remembers those doubters at the school and others early in his career, he’s moved past their judgments.
“I really think I have humbled myself enough to not really let those folks bother me at all,” Camper said. “However, it is still pretty sweet to win all the awards I did this year when I was told by those folks that I would never be a good recruiter.”
He credits his work ethic for helping him win this honor.
“I think I have a pretty good ability to network and talk to people,” he said. “My paperwork may be lacking, but I can definitely get the recruiting job done.”
He also stressed the importance of having a strong support system to help him excel at his job.
“Everyone across the board has been very supportive and helped me out a lot to be able to win this award,” he said. “If it weren’t for my family friends, mentors, etc…, there is no way this would have been possible.”
Camper said he’s not sure what lies ahead in his future.
“I am really torn because I definitely want to continue to go above and beyond, but I also want to be able to mentor and groom my office partners so they too can shine,” he said. “I feel like I had my turn to shine, but to be able to say I helped someone else shine is big to me as well. Along the way, I have had some awesome mentors to help make all this happen. I would not have been where I am today without my family, friends and mentors who have been with me along the way.”
Camper began his Air Force career as a diesel mechanic. He was inspired to join after seeing some F-16s flying by. After seeing the Fighting Falcons overhead, he was in the recruiter’s office the next day.
Unfortunately, he decided to get out of the Air Force in 2009, just as the country was experiencing an economic downturn. Not long after leaving, he had second thoughts and decided to try and rejoin.
“I started the journey to get back in the Air Force,” he said. “Three years after trying to get back in, my recruiter called and said he had some recruiting jobs. He asked if I would like to give that a shot. A few interviews later, I was in recruiting tech school.”
His experience in recruiting school and his initial years in recruiting give Camper a unique perspective to give advice to any young recruiter who may be doubting his or her ability to recruit the nation’s best and brightest for the Air Force.
“If someone is not feeling great about being a recruiter – like I was at first – they should know they can make big changes if they put their mind to it and let their family, friends and mentors help them along the way,” he said.