Alta Vista native is flying high in the Air Force

Folkers says ‘late enlistment’ is the best decision he’s made in his life

Seven years ago, Mark Folkers wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do with his life.

The 2006 graduate of New Hampton High School was living in Mason City, working at Staples and was, as he will admit now, a bit rudderless.

“I wasn’t really getting anywhere,” he said, “and you know, it was kind of like, ‘I’m 25, what am I going to do with my life?’ I just thought there was more out there for me, if that makes any sense.”

He had toyed with the idea of enlisting in the Army in the past. He had never quite been ready to pull the trigger, but now he went down to the recruiting station determined to pursue the military.

The Army recruiter, though, was out; the Air Force recruiter, however, was in.

Fast forward to today. Folkers has served in Korea, Alaska and England. He works in information technology for the Air Force.

He’s, in many ways, having the time of his life.

And he has absolutely zero regrets — well, maybe one or two — about the decision he made that day seven years ago in that Mason City recruiting office.

“It’s definitely changed me, definitely made me a better person,” he said. “I think being in the military has ‘grown me up,’ if that makes any sense. I wouldn’t say I was floundering, but I didn’t have a lot of direction. Now, I’m focused. I don’t know, I have purpose and honestly, joining the Air Force really was the best decision I ever made.”
The regret?

“Obviously, it’s that I’m a long ways away,” he said, “and in times like this, it’s really hard.”

Folkers was talking in early October while he was on leave, but this wasn’t the fun, planned-out kind of leave; he was home in Alta Vista after his father, Dean, passed away at the age of 72 on Sept. 18.

— For more on this story and to see our Veterans Day special section, see the Nov. 10 Tribune

New Hampton Tribune

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