Staff Sgt. Bradley Rector, 25th Operational Weather Squadron senior duty officer, served in the U.S. Marines for 10 years before crossing into the blue.
Rector joined the Marines in 1999, in his early 20s. Young and determined, no one could change his mind.
After Marine boot camp, Rector was stationed at Marine Corp Air Station Futenma, Japan, as a weather troop for his entire Marine Corps career.
In his 10 years in the Corps, Rector deployed eight times and served numerous stints on a ship as well as a combat tour.
Rector had a love-hate relationship with the Marines. Once he became a family man he decided he wanted to spend more time with them.
“In the Marines it is God, Country, Corps,” Rector said. “My priorities had changed; it was God, Country, Family, Corps. That slight bump down will make the world of difference in your career.”
So after 10 years, Rector denied his proposed assignment and got out of the Marines with the intent to join the U.S. Air Force.
“I moved back home to upstate New York with active duty Air Force in mind,” Rector said. “I knew I still wanted to be in the military and also knew the Air Force is more family-centric.”
According to regulations it is mandatory for prior service marines to receive a waiver. At the time, the Air Force was not accepting waivers. The recruiter advised him to get in contact with another Air Force component.
“I quickly got in contact with an Air Force Reserve recruiter,” Rector said. “I was in the reserves for 3 years, and it was such a huge difference from the Marines.”
Rector worked several civilian jobs while in the reserves.
“I worked as a maritime forecaster, as well as other odds and ends, here and there that just weren’t fulfilling, “ Rector said. “When I got out of the Marines, I should have applied for a civil servant job. I initially regretted my decision and contemplated going back into the Marines.”
After three years of ups and downs, Rector finally made contact with an Air Force recruiter that was able to help him get in.
“I practically ran down to his office I wanted to join so bad,” Rector said. “When I arrived, he told me I needed to lose 20 pounds. So for the next month I ran 4 miles a day.
The recruiter was willing to help Rector even more once he saw his determination.
“The recruiter was surprised I lost all of that in 30 days,” Rector said. “He told me not many people follow through with what he tells them they need to get done to join.”
A few months later Rector got the call.
“My recruiter called me and told me he had a base for me,” Rector said. “I had orders to here, D-M. So I went active duty Air Force April 19, 2012.”
Once Rector went active duty Air Force, he had a new found respect for the Air Force.
“I noticed a lot of differences between the branches,” Rector said. “In the Marines, things are more rigid and the Air Force takes more of a mentorship approach.”
Rector has been in the Air Force for less than 2 years and has already been selected for promotion.