KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
While following in family members’ footsteps is a fairly common motivation for joining for many service members, it’s not as common to be able to serve at the same time, much less in the same unit.
Nothing displays the flexibility of the Air Force Reserve more than the unique stories of its citizen Airmen.
Take the father-son duo of Staff Sgts. Dexter and Dylan Callais, for example.
Dexter, the elder Staff Sgt. Callais, began his Air Force career over 30 years ago when he enlisted into the Air Force. After a few permanent changes of station, a deployment to Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm as a munitions systems specialist and the birth of his two children, Dexter sought opportunity in the private sector.
“I originally enlisted right out of high school because I needed something to do,” he said. “I started out in munitions for the first five years then moved into the computer squadron for the next five. From there I got out for an (information technology) job in the civilian world and I’ve been with that company for the past 23 years.”
While Dexter was deep into his civilian career, Dylan was trying to figure out his own career path, first starting a radiology program before realizing he “didn’t like medical” and switching gears toward communications and public relations.
Still not feeling like he knew what he wanted to do, he considered the Air Force.
“There was a draw to serving that stemmed from my dad’s service because I had heard about all of the travel he got to do,” said the younger Callais. “Also, seeing the connections he had made and how they stayed connected over time was really cool.”
Dylan reached out to an Air Force Reserve Recruiter who asked him, “Do you want to fly?”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Dylan said sure, and landed a spot as a flight medic with the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.
“I realized I didn’t necessarily like learning in a school environment, but I did enjoy taking the knowledge and applying it, and that motivated me to embrace the learning part,” he said. “Being able to apply skills I’ve learned has allowed the medical field to grow on me.”
Dylan graduated from Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in 2018, and, on the way back from watching his son receive his Airman’s coin, Dexter followed in his son’s footsteps stopping at the same recruiter’s office in New Orleans and joining the Air Force Reserve.
“We had actually seen a flyer on Air Force Reserve Recruiting’s social media about prior service reenlistments,” said Dexter. “I did the math and realized I could join and figured why not do the 10 years I need to retire, so here I am.”
This time around, Dexter would serve in the cargo processing section of the 41st Aerial Port Squadron, where he works with other members to receive, check-in, and properly store cargo.
The 36th AES and 41st APS both fall under the 403rd Wing, a reserve tenant unit at Keesler. While their jobs are very different, the two say they do cross paths from time to time on the flight line.
“I usually yell at him to get to work,” Dexter said, laughing.
Both serve as traditional reservists. Dexter is still working at the same company he started with after he separated from active duty, while Dylan, when not on active duty occupational support orders, puts the emergency medical technician certification he received from his Air Force technical training to use by working as an EMT for an ambulance service.
As for the future, the eldest looks forward to retirement while the younger Callais said he is considering commissioning as a Medical Service Corps officer once he receives the bachelor’s degree he is currently pursuing but hasn’t ruled out staying enlisted in order to continue flying.