You look like you belong in the Air Force

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tambri Cason
  • 307th Bomb Wing

*This is part of the Build Your Legacy feature series highlighting how new recruits were influenced to join the 307th Bomb Wing by veterans and current military members. 

Kalill Speight, a Shreveport native, spent high school focusing on academics and getting a sports scholarship for college. He had a plan, he said.

“When I was in high school, I didn’t really see the military as an option for me at all,” said Speight. “I was strictly focused on sports.”  

Before he knew it, he had graduated high school.

“Sports didn’t work out,” said Speight. “I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.”  

This was when he took a step back to evaluate his future. He has two successful siblings, he said, an older sister in the Army and a brother in the Navy. Their encouragement and success in military careers motivated him to reach out to recruiters, said Speight.

“You look like you belong in the Air Force,” said Ty Speight, now a U.S. Navy 1st Class petty officer, to his younger brother Kalill Speight. “Being in the Air Force would be a great jumpstart to your career.”

Sometimes a decision is made after a brief interaction; sometimes interest is planted and grows over time. Those interactions can impact the course of someone’s life.

This was the case for Speight and Tanner Stewart, both trainees with experience in the Development and Training Flight (D&TF) at the 307th Bomb Wing.

Both Stewart and Speight were inspired to join the 307th Bomb Wing in the Air Force Reserves through stories and conversations with family and people they admired.

Speight was motivated to join the Air Force after a few brief interactions with his family and recruiter. Stewart, on the other hand, grew up traveling with his active duty family, and over time, watched his dad’s career and eventually his brother’s enlistment.

Although he didn’t act upon it right away, Stewart said he always felt a pull towards military service.

Stewart finished high school and enrolled in college. After two years, he found himself majoring in General Studies at Bossier Parish Community College with no concrete plan for the future, he said.

That was when Stewart’s older brother, currently a Senior Airman in the 307th Maintenance Group, shared some of his stories with him.

“My brother talked to me about his experiences in tech school and at work,” said Stewart. “Seeing him and my dad growing up my entire life is really what motivated me.”  

Stewart, now 20-years old, was a trainee in the D&TF for six months. He departed for Basic Military Training on March 8 with high spirits and a sense of pride in contributing to his family’s Air Force legacy, he said.

Speight and Stewart admitted that the individual attention and genuine accounts of military experience from members of the 307th Bomb Wing made a difference in their decision to join the Air Force Reserve over other competing branches of service.

During his decision-making process, Speight met active and reserve recruiters from several branches. He wanted to understand all of his options and assess how they lined up with his academic goals, he said. That is when he met Master Sgt. Travis Whitton, an Air Force Reserve recruiter for the 307th Bomb Wing.

“He told me about the benefits of the reserves, that there were several options,” said Speight. “I can be a traditional reservist, an Air Reserve technician or an Active-Guard Reservist. I really like having those options.”

Whitton went the extra mile and introduced Speight to several senior leaders in the 707th Maintenance Squadron before he committed to an Air Force position.

“We left his office and met up with the commander of the 707th and he told me about the shop,” said Speight. “I thought that sounded cool, I want to do that.”

Both Speight and Stewart live and desire to remain in the local area and pursue their education.

Speight’s determination and resilience were tested when his technical training was delayed twice last year due to COVID-19.

With encouragement from Whitton, he used that time to improve both physically and mentally, he said.

Whitton encouraged Speight to complete classes and reminded him of the reason he was working so hard, he said.

“He checked in with me every single week, reminding me to put in the work and I’d get promoted,” said Speight. “That was incredibly helpful.”

Now, thirteen months later, he is scheduled to depart for Basic Military Training at the end of the month. Speights has already completed 45 college credits and will promote to Airman 1st Class upon completion of basic military training.

Senior leaders in the 307th have also mentored Speight on his options and potential paths to accomplishing his long-term goal of becoming an Air Force pilot, he said. He plans to use his network, resources and benefits in the Air Force Reserves to complete school and commission as a pilot.

Both of these trainees were inspired to join the 307th Bomb Wing because of a personal connection they felt from other people sharing their stories and experiences.

Whatever the circumstances, sharing experiences play a role in shaping the legacy of the 307th Bomb Wing.

“Now that I have more knowledge, I know the Air Force Reserve is for me,” said Speight. “I’ll give this a shot and see how far I can take it!”