87th APS Reservist pursues career as AF nurse

  • Published
  • By Stacy Vaughn
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
After dreaming of becoming an officer in the Air Force for more than 10 years, Tech. Sgt. William Smith's, 87th Aerial Port Squadron air transportation craftsman, dream came true when he was commissioned as a first lieutenant May 19.

"Being in the Air Force Reserve and with the 87th APS has made my dream of becoming an officer and starting my goal of working in the medical career field a reality," Smith said.

Smith, originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, came to the United States to pursue an education in 1991. He didn't know much about the U.S. when he first arrived; only what he had read. He ended up in New York and drove a taxi for two years. After being robbed on three different occasions, he gave up driving cabs and went to school to learn how to drive tractor trailers.

"I drove trucks for nine years. During that time, I wanted to go to school to pursue an education but I didn't have a green card or the money to go so I continued to drive trucks," Smith said.

With the help of his first wife, Smith was able to get his green card and began to focus on pursuing his education. It was something he saw on television that made an impact to the direction his career was going to take.

"I saw an advertisement on television for the Army Reserve and the ad said the Army will pay for your education. It sparked an interest in me so I was ready to sign up for the National Guard. But my friend told me I should go Air Force and not Army because the Air Force was the best way to go. So I joined the Air Force."

Smith met with a recruiter based out of McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. to start the process of joining the Air Force Reserve. During the process, he traveled with a group of other potential recruits to visit a veteran's hospital, sparking another interest.

"We went to the VA hospital, that's when I discovered my passion for the medical field. I saw how the medical staffs, especially the nurses, interacted with the vets and how the vets voiced their appreciation for their care and help. I knew then that my career would be in medicine as I love helping people."

But when Smith pursued his interest with his recruiter, he found out the training for medical technician was more than one year, which was longer than he anticipated. He did not want to go that long for family reasons. Therefore he entered into the delayed entry program and went through training instead to work in aerial port.

Smith began working at the 88th Aerial Port Squadron at McGuire. He was then re-assigned to the 87th APS in 2003. Once in Ohio, Smith enrolled in school to pursue his nursing degree. He earned his associate degree in nursing from Central Ohio Technical College in Newark, Ohio, in 2007 and his Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from The Ohio State University Dec. 12, 2010. He plans to continue his education so he can eventually earn his master's and doctorate degrees.

"I'm really appreciative of the leadership and team of the 87th APS for supporting me throughout my education process. They are the ones who really made it happen for me."

Smith is currently in the individual ready reserve until he completes Officer Training School in August. He will be assigned to the 78th Medical Group, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., where he'll be assigned as a clinical nurse after familiarization training with the Air Force Nurse Corps and his unit.

"My decision for an Air Force career as a nurse was made primarily on the fact that I am already serving my country, and if I have any skills that are of value in caring for people, I want to take care of my fellow Airmen."