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NEWS | Feb. 4, 2019

African-American New Jersey Airman motivated to serve

By Senior Airman Julia Santiago 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – "I was motivated to join the military to serve my country," said Staff Sgt. Vince Stokes, a boom operator from the 141st Air Refueling Squadron. "I wanted to be an effective part of supporting a mission bigger than myself. I was also motivated to join the military for the camaraderie aspect."

Stokes has now served in the 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, for seven years.

"As a boom operator, I enjoy traveling and seeing different areas of the world," said Stokes, "I enjoy meeting new people and learning about the different cultures that I encounter. I enjoy the support I provide to inter-theater and intra-theater operations. There is nothing better than seeing how my work directly impacts the mission. I am proud of my multiple deployments and volunteerism around the globe."

As an African-American in the military, Stokes follows in a long line of African American service members.

"Continuing the legacy of African-Americans who served in the military is another reason why I continue to serve," Stokes said, "I feel like it is my duty to serve. The Tuskegee Airmen and other lesser-known African-Americans who served in the military provided the foundation for us to serve today. I enjoy serving and creating my own legacy for the generation of African- Americans that will follow in my footsteps someday."

Stokes hopes to commission as an officer and become a pilot.

"A quote that drives me to continue to serve is, 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,' said by Martin Luther King Jr.," Stokes said.