Billy Lofton swears his last oath

  • Published
  • By Air Force Staff Sgt. Cheyenne Lewis
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

All enlisted service members start their career the same way; with an oath of enlistment. Whether it’s their first enlistment or re-enlisting to continue their military service, members recite the oath and pledge their lives to defending the Constitution of the United States.

Tech. Sgt. Billy Lofton, 325th Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of plans, has given that oath six times in his career. In 2005, then-Airman 1st Class Lofton re-enlisted for the first time at one of the gates at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, which unknowingly starting a tradition he’d implement for the rest of his career.

“The first time I re-enlisted, I remember people telling me I can re-enlist however I want to,” said Lofton. “I was an Airman working the gates and I thought, I’m up here all the time, I might as well re-enlist up here.”

Lofton has now been in the Air Force for more than 18 years and all five of his re-enlistments, including his most recent on Aug. 12, 2022, have been done in the same manner, randomly selecting the first officer he comes across while checking ID cards at the gate. Although he has fond memories from of them all, he claims this re-enlistment was the most memorable.

“It was just the right [place and time] that I got Mr. Coshatt to perform my re-enlistment,” Lofton continued. “He was telling me his whole life story and I almost broke down thinking about how close I’m getting to the end. That will be me in the future coming through the gate as a retiree and it was a beautiful moment.”

Retired Lt. Col. Daniel Coshatt served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force before retiring in 2000. Coshatt loved his time in the service and is proud to have helped Lofton show his commitment to an organization he still respects.

“I did one re-enlistment ceremony as a brand new second lieutenant and being that young, you don’t really understand the full gravity of what that person has asked you to do for them,” said Coshatt. “It felt like we were just doing some [administrative] thing. This time doesn’t feel at all like that. Random selection or not, I think it’s a big deal and I felt pretty honored.”

The choice to serve is different for each individual service member and how long they choose to serve is also unique. For Lofton, his career is coming to a close following a tradition he started for himself in Kansas all those years ago.

“Security for the base, working the gates, is our bread and butter,” Lofton concluded. “That’s the first line of our security. That’s where I started out and that’s where I want to end it with my last re-enlistment, my indefinite re-enlistment.”