PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, ORE. --
Staff Sgt. Taylor Ingersoll and Airman 1st Class Olivia Cappelli are both Weapons Directors with the 116th Air Control Squadron, a geographically separated component of the 142nd Fighter Wing, based at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Oregon.
Both Ingersoll and Cappelli come from military families. Ingersoll’s father is a veteran with 33 years in service, her brother is a pilot, and her grandfather and great grandfather were full-bird Colonels. For Ingersoll, joining the military meant carrying on a family tradition.
Cappelli’s decision to serve in the military was set in motion by her step-father who served in the Army National Guard and suggested she look into the Air National Guard as an option.
“I was trying to decide what to do when I was in high school,” said Cappelli. “I’m from Texas and I knew I wanted to go to college up here in Oregon.”
Prompted by her step-father’s suggestion, Cappelli talked to an Oregon Air National Guard recruiter.
As weapons Directors, Ingersoll and Cappelli are responsible for safely and effectively controlling all airborne assets in their assigned area. The career field requires one to have a working knowledge of myriad aircraft and mission scenarios. Cappelli and Ingersoll agree that monotony is nearly impossible in their line of work.
“I enjoy the challenging aspect of it,” said Cappelli. “No mission you sit in is the same. I like that you’re constantly learning so you’re constantly having to think in new and different ways.”
For Ingersoll, her favorite part of the job is having the opportunity to work with people from other countries and branches of military.
“I like the experience of being integrated with different people. We’ve worked with all branches of service, different countries…on deployment we were with the Aussies, the Brits, Marines, Navy, you’re with everyone,” said Ingersoll. “I think meeting a bunch of different people and going to new places is pretty rad.”
A year-long deployment in South East Asia provided valuable professional experience and a fresh perspective for Ingersoll.
As for life outside the military, Ingersoll and Cappelli are actively pursuing their education goals on a full-time basis. They are both students at the University of Oregon. Their positions as Drill Status Guardsmen (DSGs) enables them to make education a priority.
Ingersoll will have her bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology at the end of next term. As an active member of the military, she is able to take advantage of the 100% tuition assistance offered through the Oregon ANG.
Cappelli is studying broadcast journalism and aims to get into a program with a focus in sports or business. She plans on utilizing the education benefits offered through the Guard in order to complete her undergraduate degree.
Both Ingersoll and Cappelli feel optimistic about what the future has to hold both in the Oregon Air National Guard and in their personal and professional lives outside of the Air Force.
Ingersoll has ambitions to possibly commission to become an Air Battle Manager (ABM) in her current career field or cross-train into linguistics studies. She’s also considering the possibility of joining the Peace Corps to teach English in Nepal or Kenya, or going to grad school for international relations. Ingersoll attributes the numerous possibilities of the future to her involvement in the Oregon ANG. “The military has shaped my life [in the sense that] I have become very self-reliant and financially independent. I have almost finished my BA, travelled around the country and world for deployment and Temporary Duty (TDY) experiences, met incredible leaders to challenge and cultivate my traits and become more well-rounded and knowledgeable on how incredible the military is for someone who enlisted right out of high school,” says Ingersoll.
With only 2 ½ years in the Oregon ANG, Cappelli is open to the possibilities of the future. “I am still trying to figure it out [but] as of right now, I know that the benefits of being in the Oregon ANG are better than I would have anywhere else as a college student,” says Cappelli. “I have countless opportunities that I never thought would be available to me constantly presenting themselves. People often say that the world is their oyster, but I would say the military is mine.”