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Like daughter, like mother: Recruiter helps family join USAF

Family joins USAF together

Air Force applicant, Linda Bamba, her mother Airman 1st Class Mahantie Koffi-Ezane and Tech. Sgt. Alfred Daprato, 319th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, pose for a photo at the recruiting office in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. While gathering information about the Air Force for her daughter, Koffi-Ezane was inspired to join. The mother has already completed basic military training and is at her first duty assignment while her daughter waits to ship to BMT. (Courtesy photo)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- When senior year of college became expensive and it was tough to keep up, a mother asked her daughter to consider joining the military as her father and others in his family had done.

However, no one expected the mother to sign up for service while gathering information for her daughter at the Air Force recruiting office in her Rhode Island hometown.

“Mom beat her to the punch,” said Tech. Sgt. Alfred Daprato, 319th Recruiting Squadron recruiter who works out of the office in Woonsocket, Rhoad Island.

Airman 1st Class Mahantie Koffi-Ezane reported to her first duty station at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, just after Christmas 2018. Her daughter, Linda Bamba will ship to basic military training in January 2019.

“It was actually her idea to join; I just wanted to go with her to the recruiting office to make sure everything was okay,” said Koffi-Ezane. “Then one thing led to another.”

Once she learned about the opportunities and benefits of joining the Air Force, she began to ponder her own path.

Koffi-Ezane said she often thought about joining the military during the years she was a military spouse but always thought her age made her ineligible to join. Once Daprato let her know she was still of recruitment age, she signed up for the battery test and application.

“I left so excited,” said the new Airman who was on a year-long wait list for a community college nursing school at the time she met her family’s recruiter.

“I’m really happy for her,” said Bamba. “I think this was something she always wanted to do. It was always my plan to join after I graduated college. It worked out well in time.”

According to Daprato, it is not uncommon for military members to inspire family to join the Air Force, especially in New England. What makes this pair unique is they both become future Airmen within a month of each other.

“It’s cool they both came out of the same office with the same recruiter,” Daprato said.

“He’s one of the best,” Koffi-Ezane said about her recruiter, Deprato. “He was very patient in answering all my questions.”

The mother’s recruitment process had already begun when her daughter returned to Rhode Island after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in public relations and sociology from Syracuse University in New York.

“Once I got to the recruiting station, my recruiter sold me,” said Bamba. “My dad is in the Marine Corps and (since I was a little) I wanted to be him. I figure I’ll go enlisted and become an officer later.”

She immediately followed her mother’s steps in the Air Force application process. Her mother was able to guide her along the way. Koffi-Ezane also wrote to her daughter from BMT to let her know what it was like and what to expect.

“I went to her graduation and got to see it in person,” said Bamba. “She was able to make her dreams a reality. I’m excited and ready to go.”

After graduating from BMT at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland, Koffi-Ezane opted to work for the Recruiters Assistance Program for 10 days and help Daprato’s office facilitate the recruitment process of other future Airmen.

“My family was surprised and worried about my age,” said Koffi-Ezane. “Some were encouraging and some were doubtful. But now they are supportive and excited because I’m in. I’m glad I can inspire and support others.”

Even if the mother-daughter pair don’t end up stationed together, Bamba is sure they can visit and share their Air Force experiences. The mother serves in the public health career field and her daughter hopes to do something in the intelligence career field. Both said they enjoy the stability the Air Force provides.

“The Air Force is the best branch in being family oriented so they’ve got that,” said Daprato.