Giuseppe Rositani packs parachutes, life rafts and prepares oxygen masks for the airplanes as part of his duties in the Connecticut Air National Guard.
Rositani is stationed at 103rd Airlift Wing, a unit of the Connecticut Air National Guard based in Windsor Locks.
“I work in aircrew flight equipment. Anything that goes into safety on a plane, I pretty much do that,” Rositani says.
The sophomore communication major started working with the guard in August 2021, completing 10-hour shifts, four days a week, in his position as airman, E-20.
“My job is very attention to detail type of thing. You have to get inspected over and over again to perfect something but even then, you’ll have to get something reinspected.” Rositani says. “You have people’s lives in your hand. If you don’t pack a parachute right, you could get somebody killed.”
Rositani’s job is inspected repetitively by a shop superintendent, chief master sergeant, squadron commander, wing commander, as safety is the No.1 priority.
To learn the skills required for his position as an airman, Rositani attended boot camp Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, for nine weeks. The boot camp itinerary, during Rositani’s experience, included waking up at 4 a.m. to do physical training for 90 minutes, then having a 10-minute breakfast. Many activities followed including drill movements, obstacle courses and shooting.
“It was a good amount of exercise. You have to account for how hot it is because you’re in Texas, too. I was in the middle [of Texas], so it was brutal,” Rositani says. “It was tough. Physically I was ready for it. Mentally, that was the hard part. Missing my family and my dogs of course.”
Following boot camp, Rositani attended Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, for about five months to receive technical training. Airmen in Training, AiT, go through eight sections—masks, night vision goggles, survival kits, life rafts, sewing, back style parachutes, ejection seat parachutes and are required to take tests and quizzes based on their learning.
Upon arrival, AiT’s are placed in the Transition Program, where they must abide by a curfew, wear their uniform consecutively and must not utilize a personal vehicle according to the Sheppard Air Force Base official website.
Along with the hard skills adapted from training, Rositani has developed soft skills including time management and determination that translate into his school and work life, Rositani says.
He claimed he was a procrastinator until being on guard duty. Now, he stays on top of his work instead of “pushing it to the side.”
Rositani has to balance schoolwork and his airman duties.
“I usually let my teachers know I may have to be out for x amount of time, or I may need extra time on an assignment,” Rositani says.
His commanders are usually lenient about schoolwork. If Rositani needs to leave early because of a class exam, they will let him.
Rositani has great leadership roles withing his guard environment. He describes them as inspirational, influencing him to make use of his time adequately.
“They push me to take advantage of college and spend my time well,” Rositani says.
For Rositani, being on guard duty has its benefits when it comes to his finances and higher education. Military are allocated access to the GI Bill for his services and plans to enroll next semester.
According to the university website, “Students can use the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Act of 2008 program or ‘Post-9/11 GI Bill’ toward degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses. The program distributes up to 36 months of benefits.
“I have met a senior master sergeant who has five college degrees due to the tuition waiver the guard offers,” Rositani says.
Rositani’s original plan was to go to the army until his mother suggested he take a different path, joining the Air National Guard.
“When you think about the air force national guard, you don’t really get approached by recruiters, you kind of have to find them,” Rositani says.
After finding recruiters, they informed him that it is a lengthy process to attain the position he wanted.
“It motivated me to try and get the job I really wanted there. I thought ‘This is something you want to really try hard to do,’” Rositani says.
According to the 103rd Airlift Wing’s official website, its mission is “to provide tactical airpower and mission support for Connecticut and the Nation through highly qualified and proficient C-130 aircrew, expertly maintained, mission-capable aircraft and steadfast mission support and precise Air Battle Management.”
Outside of being an airman and student, Rositani enjoys boxing and is something he has been doing since his freshman year of high school. The sport has been an advantage in physical training for the Air National Guard.
“It [boxing] kept me going in every aspect, especially going into boot camp. It helped already being in shape thanks to fighting,” Rositani says.
Since becoming adapted to the unit, Rositani says he will probably stay for another 18 years. Not only is his immense acclamation to the position a factor, but he is also interested in retirement benefits.
Rositani recommends that anyone wanting to join the Air National Guard should go into it with an open mind.
“Don’t expect sunshine and rainbows. It’s hard being away from family but the benefits and experience you get from it outweigh all that time you can make up,” Rositani says. “you’ll get to come home with a better appreciation of what you have and a new set of eyes.”
By Hailey Roy