Why I Stay: The inspiring journey of Staff Sgt. Codie Linden

  • Published
  • By Jonathan Cotto
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

In a world often clouded by uncertainty, there are individuals whose dedication and selflessness shine brightly, illuminating a path for others to follow. Staff Sgt. Codie Linden is one such individual, whose journey of service and sacrifice serves as inspiration to all who come across his story.

Linden is from the small town of Williamstown, N.J. His upbringing was marked by the steadfast love and support of his family. Raised by his aunt, uncle, and mother, he learned the value of resilience and perseverance at a young age.

“I’m actually an only child by my biological mother’s side, I was raised by my aunt and uncle, so growing up with them was a little different because, I have a biological mother, but it’s weird because I see someone else as my mom. They’re both my mom but it’s kind of hard to deal with that,” Linden said. “That was kind of my upbringing, my father wasn’t in the picture, so I had my uncle raise me as his own, I actually took his last name when I turned 18 out of respect for raising me as one of his own.”

Despite the absence of his biological father, Linden found solace and strength in the bonds forged with his extended family, particularly his cousins, who became like brothers to him.

“At first it was really weird, but I’m the youngest of the two, so when I was growing up with them it was kind of hard to deal with it because they’re the actual kids of my aunt and uncle and I was just like the cousin that moved in,” he said. “But eventually we grew a crazy great bond.”

It was during his formative years in high school that Linden’s path took a pivotal turn. Inspired by a former Air Force Major turned teacher, he began to envision a future in military service. Despite initially planning for college, Linden recognized the myriad of opportunities the Air Force could offer.

VIDEO | 02:51 | Why I Stay - SSgt Codie Linden

“When I graduated high school I was planning on going to college originally, but then, when I actually broke everything down and realized that the military would pay for college, I was like, why would I go and take a student loan out when the military will pay my college and I could use that if I want to be an officer later on,” the Staff Sergeant said. “I can bridge that gap later on in my career and won’t have to worry about all the student debt.”

However, the decision to leave his family and embark on this new journey was not without its challenges. Yet, fueled by their support and encouragement, Linden embarked on a path that would ultimately shape him into the man he is today.

Linden is now a Vehicle Maintenance Instructor at the 346th Training Squadron where he works with Navy and Air Force students, he says its more than just teaching curriculum for him. He understands the Airmen we train today, are the leaders of tomorrow.

“It can be anywhere on the emotional side, it can be anywhere on the financial side, it can be just academics, like they’re just not getting it and you have to figure out well what’s their best learning style,” Linden described. “That’s the big thing we do all day … helping these students to become the next generation of Airmen and Sailors that we can have in our nation.”

The Sergeant says he is grateful for his family and the Air Force, acknowledging the transformative impact they have had on his life. From instilling a sense of humility and global perspective to providing him with lifelong friendships and opportunities for personal and professional growth. He says deciding to stay blue was easier than joining.

“I have met some of my best friends here, I have learned a skill that I can now use on the outside world, they paid for my college, if I have a problem, they can help with that, if I have something emotionally going on, I can talk to people,” Linden said. “They have so many resources that people don’t fully dive into or comprehend that we can have access to on a daily basis that’s why I stay in because past the healthcare benefits its all the extras that come with it, you can’t ask this out of another company.”

The 346th Training Squadron, located in Port Hueneme, Calif., is a geographically separated unit under the 37th Training Group, 37th Training Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Activated in February 2024, the squadron is responsible for the training of Vehicle Management professionals.