Missouri Air National Guard rank in top ten states for strength in manning Published Jan. 26, 2009 By 1st Lt. Stephanie Schmitt 131st Fighter Wing Lambert IAP -- Recruiting and Retention members from the 131st Fighter Wing were recently recognized by Col. Robert L. Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during a commanders meeting for their part in the Missouri Air National Guard Recruiting and Retention Team ranking seventh in the Nation with 105% manning in fiscal year 2008. The Missouri team, which includes Lambert, Jefferson Barracks, Whiteman, and St. Joseph, accessioned 360 Airmen and Officers across the state. Lambert alone brought in 138 new members. "It takes a total team effort to raise manpower. Everyone should be commended for their outstanding effort," said Colonel Leeker. "Just three years ago our manning was around 95% and today the wing itself stands at 109% manning." There were many contributing factors that helped this team achieve their goal. "The [Guard Recruiting Assistance Program] was one way unit members helped us reach our goal," said Master Sgt. Louis Birkholz, 131st Director of Personnel Military Recruiting office manager. Recruiters attended career fairs and also received referrals from both national and local advertisements. "Each day we receive messages in our voicemail and e-mail with people who are interested in joining the Air Guard," said Sergeant Birkholz. "We call them back to see if they meet the basic qualifications." Due to the number of people interested in joining the Air Guard, the recruiting office has started two waiting lists. One list is for people meeting the basic requirements. The other list is for people that are pre-qualified because they have completed a physical and have taken the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. The retention office also ended the year achieving a retention rate above the National Guard Bureau goal. The future for recruiting and retention is bright. Technical Sgt. Jennifer Kuhl, 131st DPMR officer recruiter, will continue to recruit exclusively for officers. Technical Sgt. Melissa Lakin, 131st DPMR recruiter, will continue to recruit enlisted members. Master Sgt. Bernie Botson, 131st Department of Personnal Military Retention production recruiter, is currently in retention management training and will work in the retention office when he returns from school. Master Sgt. Carol Walsh, 131st DPMH retention office manager, will continue as the retention office manager here. Individuals interested in the Air Guard are able to reach the 131st FW by going to www.goang.com, or calling 1-800-TO-GO-ANG. To find out more about current openings, please contact the recruiting office at 314-527-6275.