September 11th, 2001. A day that for most Americans has been forever etched as one of terror, of fear and of helplessness. But for one young 18-year-old man, September 11th would become that marked day of change, and would bring about a very abrupt wake-up call from adolescence to adulthood. Technical Sergeant Mario Pile of the Idaho Air National Guard recalls the moment clearly.
“It was right after 9/11 that I knew I wanted to serve. My dad also spent twenty years in the Air Force”
And so in following in his father’s footsteps, Pile began a career with the armed forces. His enlistment also brought him to the remote Mountain Home Air Force Base in 2006 and into service for his country. Among his different duties as a guardsman, Pile found himself, front and center, in the midst of Covid-19.
“We’ve spent the last two weeks working with St. Vincent De Paul, diligently cleaning and providing much needed supplies like food, toiletries, and other necessary items to those in the community. We are here to fill that gap and to catch up to those in need.” As with many other first responders, protocol has been evolving as quickly as the spread of the virus.
“We make sure to stand with the proper distance, to wear our masks and PPE to protect ourselves and the public.”
In addition to his work within the Air National Guard, Piles brings his own unique talents and work ethic.
He says, “the best skills that I bring to my job is my ability to connect with others, a passion for helping my community as well as on campus, an active listener, donor-center focused, and seeking ways to collaborate with team members on projects. This job requires someone who is nimble, as new and challenging situations arise all the time.”
What is Pile’s definition of success? “The first measurement of success for me is being able to provide life necessities for my son and to show him that he is my top priority no matter what is going on in my life. A second measurement whether personally and/or professionally is being able to look at myself in the mirror and know that I gave my best for that day.”
Though busy with his career, and dedication to service, Pile still makes time for other causes.
“One cause that I personally care about is Idaho Youth Challenge Academy, a quasi-military alternative high school for youth between the ages 16-18 for both boys and girls. I also support Genesis Community Health, a non-profit medical/dental clinic for the low income who are uninsured. Another is Blue Sky Institute Diversity and Inclusion Summit. These create space for difficult conversations on diversity to bring solutions to all partners in business, health care, government and nonprofits.