MARIN, Calif. — An airman visiting his hometown as part of the Air Force Recruiter's Assistance Program is tired of people asking "which branch of the Army" he's in, Duffel Blog has learned.
Airman 1st Class Michael Arrierez, who recently finished Air Traffic Control technical training at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, is taking advantage of the RAP program so he can go home for two weeks without using up too much leave. His duties have mainly included dropping off Air Force brochures in shops or schools around town while wearing his uniform, but this has led to people asking questions involving the Army — an entirely different service from his own.
"I've had this happen to me eight times already," Arrierez says. "Some civilian will see me in my ABUs (Airman Battle Uniform), thank me for my service, and then ask, 'So, which branch of the Army are you in?' or, 'How's Army life?'"
Arrierez believes this misconception comes from people conflating the terms "army" and "armed forces," as well as the "basic ignorance" of civilians.
"The other day, I was with a civilian friend at Starbucks, and I stopped to talk to an older gentleman wearing a 'Retired Air Force' ball cap," Arrierez says. "After he left, my friend asked me, 'So, did you enjoy talking to the Army man?'"
He continued, "Just because an individual wears a camouflage uniform that doesn't blend in with anything doesn't mean he is in the Army. Also, if someone is standing close enough to thank me for my service, can't they also see that my branch is 'U.S. Air Force'?"
The problem doesn't just involve random people out in town, however. Even some people who have known Arrierez for years make the same mistake.
"Months ago, I announced via Facebook that I was joining the Air Force, and since then, some of my friends and relatives have asked, "'How's the Army treating you?' C'mon, guys — at least learn to read!"
Arrierez is looking forward to getting back out to active service, "where people understand this stuff," and is really excited about his first assignment to Hurlburt Field.
"I'll be training hard, so I can join Special Forces as a Combat Controller," he says.