Military service runs in the family

  • Published
  • By Audra Flanagan
  • 148th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

On a brisk March day, Hermantown High School senior Joey Gigliotti raised his right hand and took the Oath of Office at the 148th Fighter Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard.  The Oath, which is taken by military members to declare their support of the Constitution, was administered by Gigiotti’s aunt, Capt. Mylii Pukema who serves as the Director of Inspections in the 148th Inspector General office.

Watching this milestone event were three generations of family members who had taken the same oath.  Gigliotti’s father, Chief Master Sgt. Ryan Gigliotti, currently serves as the Equipment Maintenance Flight Chief in the 148th Maintenance Squadron.  In this capacity, Chief Gigliotti serves as the senior enlisted manager to over 100 personnel in six diverse aircraft maintenance shops.  Chief Gigliotti enlisted in 1990 as an Aircraft Fuel Systems specialist.  Since enlisting he’s held a variety of positions within the 148th Maintenance Group and has deployed to Howard Air Force Base, Panama; Joint Base Balad, Iraq three times; Osan Air Base, South Korea; Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base, Kuwait and numerous locations around the United States in support of NORAD-tasked homeland defense missions.

Gigliotti’s grandfather, retired Chief Master Sgt. Richard Pukema served over 23-years in the military; 18 of those years were with the 148th Fighter Wing.  “I was a traditional, or part time, member and the opportunities afforded by the professional training and experiences in the 148th helped me in both the military and 28-years of law enforcement,” said retired Chief Pukema. 

Gigliotti’s mother, Kalika Pukema, served as a Medical Service Technician in the 148th Medical Group from 1992 to 2002.

When asked why he joined the Air National Guard, Gigliotti said “Growing up in a military family, I’ve been able to meet my parent’s amazing friends and have come to appreciate the great community that is created at the 148th.  I’ve heard the stories of many great adventures and I look forward to creating my own experiences in the future with the Air Guard.”

Gigliotti will attend Basic Military Training at Joint Base Lackland – San Antonio, Texas then will proceed to Shephard Air Force Base, Texas where he’ll receive technical training to become an F-16 avionics technician.  Gigiliotti earned top scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, also known as the ASVAB, which gave him the ability to choose from any career field at the 148th.  Gigliotti chose Avionics as he thought “working on the jets will be a new and interesting challenge and the team setting will be awesome.”

After taking a gap year to attend Basic Military Training and technical school, Gigliotti plans to use the Montgomery G.I. Bill at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus where he plans to major in either Engineering or Architecture.

The 148th Fighter Wing is an F-16-equipped Air National Guard base located in Duluth, Minnesota.  Over 1,000 members are assigned to over 100 diverse career fields.  If you, or someone you know, are interested in learning more about serving your state and nation, contact a recruiter at (218) 788-7818.