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Face of Defense: Air Force Recruit Drops 128 Pounds to Enlist

By Kendahl Johnson
Special to American Forces Press Service

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga., March 25, 2008 – When Will Sims entered basic training yesterday as one of the Air Force's newest recruits, it culminated an effort to overcome an obstacle that might keep others with less determination and resolve out of the military.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Damon Andrews, a recruiter attached to 367th Recruiting Group at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., stands with Will Sims, who lost more than 125 pounds in eight months to fulfill his goal to enlist in the Air Force. Photo by Sue Sapp

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

When Sims first met with Air Force Tech. Sgt. Damon Andrews, a recruiter attached to the 367th Recruiting Group here, he weighed 128 pounds more than the Air Force's maximum allowable weight for a man of his height. Eight months later, he swore to serve the country as a member of the U.S. Air Force.

"I was told if you dream it, it will happen. Well, I dreamed it, and it happened," Sims said. "It was hard, but I did it."

The first thing Sims did was cut his calories to around 1,000 per day. Next, he started exercising at least 20 minutes per day. He gradually increased the duration of his exercises and cut even more calories from his diet.

"I was doing anything to get my heart rate up, but mainly I was running," he said. "I'd do sit-ups and push-ups to keep my strength up, but the majority of my exercise was running."

Sims found motivation in various places. First, there was Airman 1st Class James Robinson, a friend who had joined the Air Force months earlier. The two had been in the ROTC program together at Warner Robins High School.

"I knew I was overweight, but James encouraged me to talk to a recruiter anyway," Sims said. "He told me if I really wanted it, I could do it."

So he visited Andrews, who put him on him on a scale. Although Sims weighed in at 303 pounds, Andrews saw a highly motivated individual and recognized his potential to the Air Force. He began bringing Sims to the recruiting office regularly for encouragement and to measure his progress.

"Being overweight is not a showstopper," Andrews said. "If the Air Force is something you are considering and you are willing to put forth the effort, you can serve. Will has shown that."

Sims also got encouragement at home from his mother, June Sims, a small-arms program manager in 575th Combat Sustainment Squadron here. But, she said, it was his love for the Air Force that was his true motivation.

"He has always loved the Air Force, so he just decided he was going to get the weight off and join. For someone to lose that amount of weight in that amount of time is truly remarkable," she said. "We were really amazed by his efforts and his dedication and perseverance. We are really proud of him."

Sims went from 44-inch pants and XXXL shirts to 32-inch pants and medium shirts. He said he has been enjoying the change.

"Everybody who sees me says, 'Is that really Will?' And the girls sort of give me a little look now, which is nice,” he said.

Sims will begin his career in aviation resource management, but has aspirations of getting his bachelor's degree and becoming an officer. He said he is excited for the opportunity and knows his achievements prove that anything is possible.

"Stuff isn't given to you; you have to work for it,” he said. “But if you have a goal and you want to achieve something in life, then go for it. Don't let anyone tell you it's not possible.”

(Kendahl Johnson works in the 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office.)

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