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Why I Joined: Tech. Sgt. pushes past negative influences to join AF

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
(This feature is part of the "Why I joined?" series on Keesler.af.mil. These stories focus on a single servicemember's story of why they joined the military.)

There are countless reasons to join the military.

For a young Alberto Trujillo, his reasoning was a mixture of two things: a good reflection on where he was in life and a somewhat random encounter with a recruiter.

"I grew up in small town in New Jersey," said Trujillo. "I'd made good choices in my life and I'd made bad choices. As for my major influences on me at the time, the bad outweighed the good, and my moral compass wasn't the best.

Tech. Sgt. Trujillo entered the Air Force as a cyber transport specialist and has been an instructor at the Airman Leadership School for four years, where he currently teaches leadership skills to Airmen.

"You're not an Air Force Specialty Code that happens to be an Airman," said Trujillo, quoting a mentor. "You're an Airman that happens to be that AFSC."

Trujillo's students describe him as incredibly professional, which is evident, in as small an instance as his firm handshake, and is truly on display in his crisp uniform.

He is average height, yet stands tall, and as for his teaching style, "Sgt. Tru pushes us to the limit," said Senior Airman Tiffany Blake, a student of Trujillo's. "He always says, 'you earn what you get.' And he follows the same standards that he sets for his students."

At Keesler, where he just so happened to meet his wife, Trujillo says he has the life he never could have if he hadn't joined the military.

"There are so many perks that we get in the military," said Trujillo. "Even with our nation having to cut back on a lot of those, they aren't a part of our overall reasoning for doing what we do. The hope is to be a public servant and to make something better than it once was."

Trujillo says it was this sentiment that caught his attention one random day in high school. It was during lunch of one of Trujillo's final high school days.

"Everyone was in the bleachers around the basketball court, and I see this recruiter's table getting put up," said Trujillo. "I had one friend who was actually really excited and I couldn't figure out why."

But, then the recruiter walked in.

"There are so many intangible things we get from doing what we do, and you can't put a dollar amount on that," said Trujillo. "I think I caught a glimpse of that the day I met that recruiter."

The recruiter was freshly shaven, cropped hair, clean uniform, Trujillo reminisced. He spoke properly and about things that mattered.

"Do you want a job?" The recruiter asked the young Trujillo.

"Yes," Trujillo answered.

"Do you want an education?"

"Yes, absolutely."

"Do you want to be a part of something bigger?"

Trujillo spent a year battling with this idea before ultimately saying "Yes."

Most of Trujillo's high school friends were going nowhere fast, but they still felt like his friends at the time, he said. They did not aspire to make anything of themselves.

"They had no ambitions for higher education or for any kind of profession," he explained. "They weren't contributing. We just hung out at the mall, wasted time, got in brushes with the law. It took me a while to see that my friends were just doing stupid things."

Trujillo's father and older sister were his mentors during this decision-making time after high school. He worked with his father at a car dealership while he decided what to do with himself.

"You need to do something that is going to challenge you," Trujillo's father told him.
Although his father had only been around periodically throughout his youth, Trujillo attributes his father with guiding him to the life he now has.

"Look who you surround yourself with," said Trujillo, quoting from an instructor he had during Airman Leadership School. "What you allow in your presence becomes your standard."

Looking back now, Trujillo said that everything happened to line up just right. His father and older sister being there for him even when he didn't want them to, and the appearance of a professional individual at his high school combined to form a big arrow pointing to the Air Force.

"You hear that cliché of everything happens for a reason," Trujillo added. "But I wouldn't have the life I have today without the military."