By Air Force Senior Airman Kyle Gese
82nd Training Wing
SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas, March 19, 2015 – An airman who is in technical training here for aircraft electrical and environmental systems draws his inspiration from his mother, a soldier who was killed in Iraq.
Airman Treyton-Thomas Juopperi joined the Air Force a few months ago despite having lost his mother during her last tour in Iraq. He was shattered by her death, he said, but her memory inspired him to follow in her footsteps.
Juopperi’s mother, Army Staff Sgt. Carletta Davis, was a health care specialist and combat medic who served multiple tours in Iraq. She was killed Nov. 5, 2007, when her Humvee struck an improvised explosive device.
“I figured, ‘You’re joking -- there is no way that is real,’” Joupperi said. “I stood there and my heart just dropped. … I just sat there and watched my dad cry. It was weird to see him cry.”
Honoring the Sacrifice
But through his struggles, Joupperi said, he eventually began to see the importance of his mother’s sacrifice. “At first, I was very angry at the military,” he said. “I didn’t really have the whole gung-ho mindset about serving your country. I thought, ‘Why should my mom give her life for the country?’”
While in college, Joupperi said, he started to think about what he was doing with his life. He decided to dedicate his life to something like what his mother did -- “or at least half as good as she did” -- he said.
After reflecting on the reasons his mother served, Joupperi said, he realized his calling and turned to the Air Force to honor his mother’s service. He remembered his mother telling him that if he were to join the military, she hoped he would be wearing the Air Force uniform.
“You never know who is watching or whose life you are going to impact that day,” Joupperi said. “In the end, it came down to one question: What kind of person do you want to be?”
Decision Came Easily
Joupperi said his decision came easily, and that he promised himself he would not settle for mediocrity.
“Even in the operational Air Force, I will go forth and put 110 percent into everything I do,” he said. “Even if it’s desk work, volunteer work, training or a [reclassification], everything I do, I plan to put my best effort into it.”
With five brothers who look up to him every day, it’s important for him to do things right, he added.