JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
When senior year of college became expensive and it was tough to keep up, a mother asked her daughter to consider joining the military as her father and others in his family had done.
However, no one expected mother to sign up for service while gathering information for her daughter at the Air Force recruiting office in her Rhode Island hometown.
“Mom beat her to the punch,” said Tech. Sgt. Alfred Daprato, a 319th Recruiting Squadron recruiter who works out of the office in Woonsocket.
Airman 1st Class Mahantie Koffi-Ezane reported to her first duty station at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, just after Christmas 2018. Her daughter, Linda Bamba, shipped to Basic Military Training in January 2019.
“It was actually her idea to join; I just wanted to go with her to the recruiting office to make sure everything was okay,” Koffi-Ezane said. “Then one thing led to another.”
Once she learned about the opportunities and benefits of joining the Air Force, she began to ponder her own path.
Koffi-Ezane said she often thought about joining the military during the years she was a military spouse but always thought her age made her ineligible to join. Once Daprato let her know she was still of recruitment age she signed up for the battery test and application.
“I left so excited,” said the new Airman who was on a year-long wait list for a community college nursing school at the time she met her family’s recruiter.
“I’m really happy for her,” Bamba said. “I think this was something she always wanted to do. It was always my plan to join after I graduated college. It worked out well in time.”
According to Daprato, it is not uncommon for military members to inspire family to join the Air Force, especially in New England. What makes this pair unique is they both become future Airmen within a month of each other.
“It’s cool they both came out of the same office with the same recruiter,” Daprato said.
“He’s one of the best,” Koffi-Ezane said about Deprato. “He was very patient in answering all my questions.”
The mother’s recruitment process had already begun when her daughter returned to Rhode Island after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Sociology from Syracuse University in New York.
“Once I got to the recruiting station, my recruiter sold me,” Bamba said. “My dad is in the Marine Corps and since I was a little, I wanted to be him. I figure I’ll go enlisted and become an officer later.”
She immediately followed her mother’s steps in the Air Force application process. Her mother was able to guide her along the way. Koffi-Ezane also wrote to her daughter from Basic Military Training to let her know what it was like, what to expect.
“I went to her graduation and got to see it in person,” Bamba said. “She was able to make her dreams a reality. I’m excited and ready to go.”
After graduating from Basic Military Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Koffi-Ezane opted to work for the Recruiters Assistance Program for 10 days and help Daprato’s office facilitate the recruitment process of other future Airmen.
“My family was surprised and worried about my age,” Koffi-Ezane said. “Some were encouraging and some were doubtful. But now they are supportive and excited because I’m in. I’m glad I can inspire and support others.”
Even if the mother-daughter pair don’t end up stationed together, Bamba is sure they can visit and share their Air Force experiences. The mother serves in the public health career field and her daughter hopes to do something in the intelligence career field. Both said they enjoy the stability the Air Force provides.
“The Air Force is the best branch in being family oriented so they’ve got that,” Daprato said.