The perfect score. What does that mean? What does it look like? I recently became aware of an Airman who scored a perfect 99 on Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB test. I was intrigued. When discussing this topic with a colleague, I learned there was another Airmen with a perfect 99. An inquiry with the Force Development Office shows the 148th Fighter Wing is privileged to have seven Airmen, from diverse educational backgrounds, who’ve aced the ASVAB. We’ll meet those Airmen, but first, let’s review some data.
The U.S. Military has used aptitude tests since World War I to screen people for military service. Initially the Army used Alpha and Beta tests to provide military commanders measurable data on the abilities of personnel. In 1950, the Services turned to a single test called the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). This test measured examinees’ ability to absorb the rigors military training and was used until 1972.
The U.S. Air Force began using the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, in 1973. All other Service branches followed suit by 1976. The ASVAB has modified content multiple times over the years and is primarily used to determine enlistment eligibility, assign applicants to military career fields and aid students in career exploration.
ASVAB examinees are given scores that have a fixed mean and standard deviation within a population of examinees. U.S. Air Force examinees receive scores in four service classification composites or subcategories. These subcategories are Mechanical, Administrative, General and Electrical.
Lastly, examinees receive a score on what’s called the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) which represents the percentage of examinees who scored at or below a certain score within a reference group. More simply put, an examinee who received an AFQT score of 90 has actually scored as well or better than 90% of the national sample of youth aged 18-23 during a specific period of time.
According the www.officialasvab.com, less than 1% of examinees earn a 99 AFQT score. Let’s meet the seven 148th Fighter Wing ‘Aces of the ASVAB’.
Tech. Sgt. Charles Burnes enlisted as an Aerospace Propulsion craftsman, also known as jet engine mechanic, in 2014. The 2012 Proctor High School graduate, who initially joined for the educational benefits, earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Lake Superior College. Since enlisting, Burns has deployed to Osan Air Base, South Korea in 2016, the Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany Central Repair Facility (CERF) in 2018 and Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia in 2022.
Burns’ favorite memories of serving include traveling Europe while deployed to Germany in 2018 and a long weekend touring Tokyo during his deployment to South Korea in 2016.
Capt. Andrew Busam enlisted at the 148th Fighter Wing in 2008 as a Cyber Security Specialist. The class of 2000 graduate of Marshall School in Duluth, Minn., went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts from St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minn. In 2004 and a Master of Science degree in Information Technology from the St. Mary’s University Twin Cities campus in 2015.
Busam was working as an actor prior to joining the Air National Guard. “I had a couple small movie credits, voice overs, industrials, print ads and stage work. That was fine while I was single, but once I got married and started a family, the pay wasn’t scaling with my needs,” said Busam. “I needed reliable health insurance,” added Busam.
Busam’s father had been a member of the 148th so the Air National Guard was on his radar as possible pay and insurance solutions. “Computers have always been my hobby,” said Busam, “so I joined the Communications Flight.” Busam currently serves as the full-time Director for the 148th Fighter Wing’s Communications Flight.
Staff Sgt. Matt Florestano enlisted as an Airfield Management Operations specialist in 2018. The 2009 graduate of Duluth East High School earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Math Education from the University of Wisconsin – Superior in 2014.
Florestano said he joined because he “had heard good things about the 148th from current and former Bulldogs and was looking for new career opportunities.”
Some of Florestano’s career highlights include a 2019 training deployment to New Orleans and a NORAD homeland defense mission at the Savannah Air Dominance Center, Georgia in 2020.
Airman 1st Class Joey Gigliotti enlisted at the 148th Fighter Wing in 2021 as a Fighter Aircraft Integrated Avionics specialist. The 2021 graduate of Hermantown High School in Hermantown, Minn., is currently attending the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus where he is studying civil engineering with an emphasis on structures.
Gigliotti took a gap year to complete Basic Military Training, technical school and deploy to the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing, Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield.
“My parents are both enlisted at the 148th, so I’ve been around this community my entire life,” said Gigliotti. “Seeing the life-long friendships and family that comes with being part of the Air National Guard made me want to be a part of it,” Gigliotti added. “I’d always hear of my parents’ adventures and wanted to create my own. This, on top of the tuition benefits, is the reason I joined,”
Airman 1st Class Cressa Looft enlisted at the 148th Fighter Wing in August 2021 as an Aircraft Armament Systems specialist, or weapons loader. The 2019 graduate of Dassel-Cokato High School, Cokato, Minn., joined because she needed motivation and funds to pay for college. Looft attends the University of Minnesota Duluth where she studies chemical engineering.
Looft’s fondest memory of serving thus far is meeting new friends at technical training located at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.
Airman 1st Class Ayden Schueler enlisted at the 148th Fighter Wing in 2021 as a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance specialist, also known as crew chief. Schueler’s educational path may be viewed as non-traditional. Schueler was home-schooled grades 5-10. Schueler attended Ridgewater Community College in Willmar, Minn., to earn an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences through the Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program which allows Minnesota students to earn college credits for free while attending high school. Schueler graduated high school and college in the spring of 2021.
The primary reason Schueler joined the Air National Guard was to gain technical skills and earn enough money to support his wife and future family. “Through the training pipeline, I’ve earned enough money to get married and furnish a household while gaining technical skills that translate to a well-paying job within the military or civilian sector,” said Schueler.
Schueler current serves as a full time Phase Dock Inspector where he performs periodic 400-hour inspections on the wing’s F-16 fighter aircraft.
Staff Sgt. Paul Shol enlisted at the 148th Fighter Wing as a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance specialist, or crew chief, in 2017. The 2005 graduation of Fergus Falls High School went on to earn a degree in Math Education from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., in 2009.
“I’ve always had a love for planes, especially fighter jets. That’s why I chose the 148th Fighter Wing and became a crew chief; so I could work on an be close to the jets,” said Shol. “I also felt a calling to serve, like my grandfather and other family and community members. I believe in giving back to our country.”
Shol’s fondest memory of serving thus far is deploying to the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing, Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia in 2022 in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield.
While acing the ASVAB is exceptional, it’s not a requirement to join the Air National Guard. Currently the Air Force requires a minimum ASVAB AFQT score of 31 and several career fields have stricter requirements.
ASVAB Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (2023). History of Military Testing,
ASVAB Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (2023). ASVAB Scoring,
U.S. Air Force (2023), FINDING YOUR PLACE IN THE AIR FORCE, https://www.airforce.com/asvab
|DULUTH, MN, US