After five years, the United States Air Force has returned to the Washington area.

A new recruiting station opened in Washington late last year. The station is located at 1911 Bedford Center Drive in Washington near the Hot Dog Man stand.

Technical Sgt. Derick Faulkenberry has been tasked to run the office. The first-time recruiter is excited to work with the community.

Faulkenberry is a 14-year Air Force veteran. He was born and raised in Stone Mountain, Ga., and will spend the next four years recruiting in the area.

“My goal is to stay out of the office as much as possible,” Faulkenberry said. “I want to get out in the community and visit with the schools and local businesses. Right now, we’re just trying to let people know we are back in the area.”

After the last Washington office closed about five years, Lt. Col. Joel N. Brown, commander, 345th Recruiting Squadron and Scott Air Force Base, Ill. pushed for a new one to open up in his hometown. It was finally approved last year.

The Washington office covers an area that stretches from Euerka to Hermann and to the Belle area, Faulkenberry said.

Having the new office means interested recruits won’t have to travel as far to meet with a recruiter. Faulkenberry said anyone can contact the office at 636-390-8222 to set up an appointment.

“The whole purpose is to drive interest and get people into the office and see if the Air Force is right for them,” he said.

Faulkenberry will be able to share his story of joining the Air Force during his visits.

“I hit a lot of detours in the route there,” he said, explaining he didn’t join after high school, but instead went to the University of Georgia. In college, he was majoring in music performance and education. He said he played an obscure instrument, euphonium.

At some point, he started questioning his major. As his bills starting to stack up, he said he wanted an alternative. He began considering the Air Force.

As a kid, Faulkenberry said he was obsessed with space and wanted to be an astronaut. To do that, his dad told him he needed to be in the Air Force.

“The Air Force was always in my mind,” he said.

Faulkenberry has enjoyed his time in the Air Force and is looking forward to interacting with potential recruits who may have not considered the Air Force.

One of his first big public events was Monday when he visited St. Clair High School with the Air Force Performance Lab.

The newest Air Force asset provides visitors the opportunities to test their sills in various challenges and learn what it takes to become an airman.

St. Clair was a natural choice to show off the lab. The school has an Air Force JROTC program and Faulkenberry said he’s looking forward to connecting with the students on a regular basis.