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Black History Month: Highlighting those who serve - 5

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Grossi
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Each February, the nation takes 28 days to reflect on the challenges, achievements and crucial roles of African Americans in U.S. history. This month is Black History Month. The occasion was first recognized in 1976 by President Gerald Ford, who considered it an, “opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” and has been adopted by each president since. In celebration of Black History Month, Youngstown Air Reserve Station is proud to highlight the diverse Reserve Citizen Airmen who provide their own experiences, perspectives and skillsets while serving the U.S. at Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

Black History Month is important to Staff Sgt. Rico Allen, a fire team leader with the 910th Security Forces Squadron, because it highlights how he arrived where he is today and shows him where he is right now. To Allen, it is the accumulation of history, both obstacles and victories, that brought him to serving alongside diverse people in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

Rico enlisted because he was inspired by the benefits that come with service. 

“I was in school before I joined, and I was interested in furthering my education,” said Allen. “I also wanted to do something that I could have pride in. That was a big reason for me to join. My best friend, Jarret Scott, was in at the time and told me about all the benefits which helped in my decision.”

Allen said that being selected for a full time Active Guard and Reserve position is the best thing that has happened to him during his service thus far. While he was on orders as a Traditional Reservist at YARS, the plant where he worked as a civilian permanently shut down. Needing work, he applied for the AGR position and was selected. AGR Airmen receive full-time pay and medical care for themselves and their families and the opportunity for retirement after 20 years of active service.

“At the time, it was a very difficult program go get into, with a lot of tough competition,” said Allen.

Rico considers family to be an important part of his life. He is married and is expecting a daughter who is due on March 3, 2021.