Commentary - Why I Stay Blue: Staff Sgt. Benjamin Mantonya

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kayla Christenson
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

I am Staff Sgt. Benjamin Mantonya, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron ground transportation training validation operations examiner, and I am from Mountain Grove, Missouri and this is why I decided to reenlist in the Air Force after getting out.

I chose to return to the U.S. Air Force for many reasons. To provide some clarity to that statement, I recently separated, honorably, and on good terms. After my separation in December of 2021, I almost immediately realized that it wasn’t what I truly wanted because there were still so many things that I wanted to do during my time in the Air Force.

So, why do I choose to stay? I have chosen to return and to stay because the family that the military brings you and the camaraderie is unmatched compared to the civilian sector. The job-fulfillment or mission accomplishments and experiences gained along the way is far above any nine-to-five job that I can think of. Being able to network and meet so many diverse and incredible people is probably one of my favorite things about the military and on a global scale.

There are many reasons why I serve in the Air Force. First and foremost, my drive to serve others but most importantly being able to do so while providing for my growing family. Second, I have always felt the call to serve God by doing my best to live my life as an example for others that would honor him.

My family has a history of serving, dating back to 1955 and 1960 when both of my grandfathers served one term each in the military. Soon after their service they both were called into full-time pastoral and missionary ministry. My dad’s side of the family were all missionaries. We lived as full-time missionaries in Porto Velho, Brazil.

        After graduating high-school, I started out in the fire service profession where I attended school to become a full-time firefighter, while serving at the Mountain Grove Volunteer Fire Department in my hometown in Missouri. After four years of school and many fire and medical calls, I realized working in fire service was very competitive and I wasn’t sure I would be able to put in the hours and energy to go full-time. Even though the emergency profession was still important to me, I decided to explore another passion - serving in the United States military as my grandfathers, uncle and brother-in-law did.

I was just ready to get started with a full-time career serving God, my country, and community, all while taking care of and supporting my family in the best way I knew how, which ultimately led me to joining the U.S. Air Force.

You can easily lose sight of why you joined and become discouraged when you start chasing promotions and different opportunities that don’t come your way. However, by exercising self-reflection in a playbook or journal, you can usually come back to why you joined. Whether the reasons were for a short-term goal or a long-term goal, you can reel yourself back in which will allow you to persevere through all the fog in your everyday lives.