Chicago MEPS, Ill. –
When your father and grandfather were both Army Aviation Officers, and your stepmother is currently an Army colonel, following their legacy seems like an obvious path to pursue. That is, of course, if you aren’t a 22-year-old wanting to forge your very own path. Instead of choosing to “Be All You Can Be” with the Army, Carter Stallings decided to enlist and “Aim High” with the Air Force.
Carter is the stepson of Army Col. Megan Stallings, commander, USMEPCOM, and his father is retired Army Col. Chris Stallings (current executive director of Naval Service Training Command). His father was on active duty before he was even born, so Carter grew up on various bases and military communities. From a young age, he favored Airmen wings to the Army’s five-pointed star.
“I was interested in the Air Force ever since I was a kid,” said Carter. “I would visit my parents on different bases, but I always gravitated towards the Air Force uniforms and insignia.”
While attending The University of Alabama, Carter began seriously contemplating enlisting into the military. He knew his parents would have a lot to say, so he sought out their advice before sealing his decision.
“When it came to the point where I finalized my decision to enlist, I talked to my parents,” Carter said. “We made a list of pros and cons for the different branches and looked at a variety of jobs. Of course, their pro list for the Army was longer, but they were fair and open to me looking at other services. The tipping point really was that the jobs that interested me the most were in the Air Force.”
Carter initially wanted to be a boom operator but decided upon explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician. He enlisted and entered the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) near his school in Alabama. He shipped out from Chicago MEPS, where his family is located.
“He entered the DEP at Montgomery MEPS,” said Col. Megan Stallings. “Thanks to the virtual capabilities of USMIRS and MHS GENESIS, a MEPS-to-MEPS transfer is just a few clicks of a button. He was able to see his little brother and spend his last weekend with us before shipping out.”
Aside from joking (or not) to never let basic training leadership know about his high-ranking parents, Carter’s dad had some wise words to bestow upon him on his final day as a civilian.
“The two most important things I imparted upon him were to believe in yourself and be resilient in striving for your goal,” said Chris Stallings. “There’s a year-long training pipeline before becoming an EOD technician and there will be setbacks along the way. Adjust as needed and keep pursuing your goal.”
Carter looks forward to traveling after completion of EOD school. He said some of his fondest childhood memories included the adventure and travel that came with being a military kid.
“It has been nice to experience a bunch of different places,” Carter said. “I loved Washington D.C. when my stepmom worked at The Pentagon. When I was eight, my parents were at the Naval War College in Rhode Island and that was an awesome spot. In my career, I want to go overseas at some point. Being stationed in Japan or somewhere else in Asia would be awesome.”
Chris Stallings was able to administer the Oath of Enlistment to his son at Chicago MEPS, passing the baton to the next generation. He promised that there’s no service rivalry between father and son.
“Obviously as an old Army guy I was rooting for him to join the Army,” said Chris Stallings. “But I’m super proud he has decided to serve and found something he’d really like to do. It shows a lot about his moral fiber, that he is willing to follow orders of those over him. I hope he enjoys the experience and helps his fellow airmen get across the finish line.”