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By 2nd Lt. Shane Phipps
The Vermont Air National Guard officially welcomed Libass Mbengue into its ranks during an enlistment ceremony, here, May 18.
Mbengue moved to Milton, Vermont in 2018 from Senegal and will enter operations management within the 158th Civil Engineer Squadron.
“I’ve always wanted to serve in the military, but I didn’t want to be away from my family in Milton,” said Mbengue. “So, I was very happy when I learned I could join the Guard and still stay close to home.”
As a citizen Airman, Mbengue will serve in a part-time capacity while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Vermont. In addition, his service will make him eligible for a variety of benefits, including healthcare insurance, competitive retirement, and comprehensive tuition assistance.
“I’m excited to be able to serve while continuing to further my education in mechanical engineering,” said Mbengue.
For Mbengue’s recruiter, enlisting members of such quality makes their job easy. “It’s been a pleasure to work with Libass,” said Tech. Sgt. Paul Popovich, 158th Fighter Wing recruiter. “He exemplifies our core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do – and he will make an outstanding addition to our team.”
Though Mbengue is not yet a U.S. citizen, he’s able to join a variety of qualifying career fields, such as operations management, which is tasked with ensuring schedules and budgets are met, and materials are available for civil engineer projects.
“There are quite a few career fields that can be filled by those awaiting their citizenship,” said Popovich. “It’s a great way for the member to gain additional skills which can help greatly in the U.S. job market.”
The Vermont National Guard has been partnered with the Republic of Senegal for 15 years through the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. Vermont also shares a partnership with North Macedonia since 1993 and the Republic of Austria since 2022.
Since 2008, this partnership with Senegal has included engagements in disaster management and domestic response, force management, peace and stability operations, and intensive medical exercises.
“Meeting Libass and having the unique opportunity to enlist new citizens into our Guard is truly one of the best parts of my job,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont adjutant general. “I look forward to being there when Libass becomes an American citizen.” said Knight.