Albany-area military recruiters seek next generation of nation’s warriors

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Payden Forkum points out some of the territory he serves on a map located in the recruitment office on North Westover Boulevard. (Photo Courtesy of Alan Mauldin)

Credit: Alan Mauldin

Credit: Alan Mauldin

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Payden Forkum points out some of the territory he serves on a map located in the recruitment office on North Westover Boulevard. (Photo Courtesy of Alan Mauldin)

From the Turner Field training base of World War II, Albany has had a solid relationship with the U.S. military. That facility, which was used by the Army Air Corps to train pilots for the global conflict, later became an Air Force and then a Navy training facility until 1974.

Today, Albany is home to Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, and many military retirees call the ‘Good Life City’ home.

Over the years, young people from the Albany area and southwest Georgia have shipped off to serve in the various branches of the military. In an office complex on North Westover Boulevard, recruiters for the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Space Force work to recruit those who will defend the country in the future.

At the Air Force/Space Force office, Tech Sgts. Payden Forkum and David Spriggs work in an office filled with brochures and other paraphernalia of their trade. Their mission is to let potential enlistees know about how they can benefit from joining up.

Recruitment is considered a special duty of four years, and Forkum covers 10 high schools in the region. Spriggs works with eight high schools and two colleges.

“Basically, we’re seeking highly qualified individuals that want to be part of the team,” Spriggs said. “I tell people (the) active-duty Air Force represents 1% of the nation.”

A Goldsboro, N.C., native, Spriggs has been in Albany since July 2022. He is currently working on a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Arizona, using funds he earned through his time in the Air Force.

“I started community college at Wayne Community College,” he said. “I had two older brothers who were serving, my dad served as well. I wanted to go ahead and pay for school while working.”

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. David Spriggs has been on his assignment as a recruiter in Albany, Georgia for nearly two years. The office in Albany seeks enlistees for the Air Force and Space Force in southwest Georgia. (Photo Courtesy of Alan Mauldin)

Credit: Alan Mauldin

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Credit: Alan Mauldin

As a recruiter, Spriggs works in the Albany area and also covers Crisp, Terrell and Turner counties, including high schools in that area as well as Albany State University and Albany Technical College.

“A typical day is, like, finding individuals who may be interested, highlighting the benefits the Air Force has to offer, going to community events or high schools or colleges,” Spriggs said. “Typically, we’ll reach out to guidance counselors, working with them, whether it’s setting up a table, career fairs or addressing a classroom. Schools have been great. You reach out and they’ll be happy to have you there.”

Forkum, who has been in the area since early 2024, covers 10 high schools, including Baker, Calhoun, Early, Lee, Mitchell, Randolph, Webster and Worth counties.

“We have over 130 jobs in the Air Force,” Spriggs said. “What we are mainly looking for is mechanics, cybersecurity, cyber intelligence and security forces.”

The Air Force also has its own Special Warfare forces, the service’s equivalent to the Navy Seals, that include pararescue, combat control and other specialties.

“We have the mission air/space dominance, putting planes wherever we want whenever we want,” Forkum said. “With Special Warfare, we’re looking for athletes, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) or language.”

Among the benefits of enlisting are up to $4,500 per year in college tuition assistance and credentialing opportunities online (AF COOL), which is unique to the service and offers a one-time benefit of up to $4,500 to pursue a license in an area like Real Estate or nursing. Another benefit is Community College of the Air Force.

“Those (latter) two are not offered by the other services, so I like to highlight them,” Forkum said. “AF COOL and Community College of the Air Force are only offered by the Air Force and Space Force.”

The Air Force also needs those who are skilled in trades like construction and welding, Forkum said. To rapidly build facilities, the service even has teams of drywall installers.

“You think of having to build a small city,” he said. “Anybody who works with that, we need them. If you have an interest, we can find a job for that specifically in the Air Force.”

The two recruiters acknowledged that in an economically depressed area like southwest Georgia, the military can serve as a vehicle for those looking to find opportunities and a leg-up on college and careers they might not otherwise receive.

“We’re definitely a lifeline for those who are trying to overcome bad situations,” Forkum said. “We’ve got a lot of those stories.”

Along with the other benefits the Air Force can offer, travel is among the top reasons high school graduates sign up, Spriggs said. That includes 64 bases around the United States and world.

“Honestly, I feel like the Air Force sells itself,” Spriggs said. “I say if you’re fairly motivated and want to seek an opportunity to be a part of a team, it’s the Air Force.”

Credit: Albany Herald

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Credit: Albany Herald


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