Airman honors father's wish for military service

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

For some, joining the military is a family tradition. For others, it's a sense of duty or obligation.

Airman 1st Class Joshua Kyer had no family or friends in the military, but he still dropped plans to attend Virginia Tech in favor of joining the Air Force in 2013.

"I was going to go to school with all my friends; that was the plan," said Kyer, 81st Force Support Squadron student personnel flight. "But right before senior year, my father died. He had talked a lot about regretting not joining the military, and it really stuck with me."
Kyer's father had worked as an electrician and believed he would have had more opportunity in life if he had done military service.

"We were really close," Kyer said. "He was very self-educated and grew up very poor so opportunities were not available to him. He had to settle with the job he had due to lack of education. He encouraged and motivated me to achieve higher education.

"When he passed away, everything went crazy."

Kyer considered the military very seriously for the first time. His sudden decision was met with confusion by family and friends.

"I'm not really a military person," said Kyer. "I wasn't very serious in high school; kind of the class clown type with long hair. I didn't know anything about the military."

"Plus, I had to leave the only friends I've had my whole life," he added. "I've never had to make new friends before."

It wasn't that his family and friends didn't want to support him, but they were a little skeptical.

"Josh and I have been friends for years and he had always talked about going to college," said Carter Goodbar. "When we went and talked to the recruiter he showed a lot of interest, which was surprising to me because he was always a joker and never showed interest in discipline. When he told me his final decision, along with other people in our group of friends, we were shocked, but happy for him because he seemed very excited about the choice he made."

Kyer decided that school was still a priority for him, so he chose to join through the Air Force. Eventually, family and friends came around to the idea, and Kyer signed for an "open general" job selection to get to basic training as soon as possible.

"Basic was rough at first," said Kyer. "But, I got used to it just like everybody else."

He came to Keesler after BMT and stayed at Keesler after technical training.

"Airman Kyer is very well rounded and sharp," said Tech. Sgt. Shawanda Washington, 81st FSS student personnel NCOIC. "I never would have guessed that the military didn't run in his family. He looks and works like he was born for this."

Kyer is grateful for the opportunities the Air Force affords and everything he's learned so far, but his reason for joining all stems from one feeling.

"I've always believed that everyone should do some form of giving back to their country," he said.

His dad validated that urge in him.

"He also was the best mentor and always knew what to say. I often wonder what he would have actually thought of me joining the Air Force. Many times whenever I have to make a tough decision I just sit and wonder what he would have said to me. He might not have been around to talk to me about enlisting but he played a major role in me doing so."

When Kyer graduated high school, his cap was decorated and read "This is for you dad USAF."