179th Command Chief Master Sgt. Jones selected as State Command Chief for Ohio
By Story by, Airman Megan Shepherd, 179th Airlift Wing
/ Published February 09, 2017
Mansfield, Ohio -- Airmen of the 179th Airlift Wing, Mansfield, Ohio, gathered together in the dining facility here Nov. 30 for a luncheon to celebrate the promotion of their Command Chief Master Sgt. Thomas A. Jones, as he is departing the unit to be the new State Command Chief for all of the Ohio Air National Guard.
Jones started his military career in September of 1978 as an active duty Marine in the 78th Aviation Flight Equipment.
After his first term was completed with the Marines, he decided that being a career Marine wasn’t for him so he got out and moved home to Lucas, Ohio. He worked in a factory and went to college for a little while. Jones swore he would never join the Guard but after being out of the military for two years and making $5 an hour in a factory in Ashland, Ohio, he decided to check out the Guard unit in Mansfield.
Jones ended up enlisting in the Ohio Air National Guard in 1984 with the 179th AW Aerial Port Squadron. He spent just six months there before taking a full time position in the Aircrew Flight Equipment of the 164th Airlift Squadron where he would remain until 2006 when he took a position in the Logistics Readiness Squadron.
Jones explained how it can be easy to get comfortable with what you know and the position that you’re in. He faced some adversity when trying to branch out and apply for different positions within the wing. Jones said, “There was something better waiting for me because I didn’t hang my head when I didn’t get those jobs.”
Now as a Chief, Jones has sat on the other side of those interviews and offered insight from his experience.
“I know what it feels like to be told no. You only get to make one person happy on an interview panel and to the majority you have to say ‘you didn’t get the job’,” said Jones. “I can look them in the eye and say I know how you feel, but keep your head up and keep trying.”
Jones stated that he never imagined he would become the command chief of the 179th AW, let alone the command chief of the entire state of Ohio.
Jones will fit right into the role of State Command Chief, as his primary duty will be to take care of the enlisted airmen of Ohio. For years, Jones has been stepping up and looking out for his fellow airmen.
The airmen of the 179th AW came to know Jones as the guy to go see when it was time to sew on the next rank. Sewing was one of the many skills the Marines taught him. Jones said when he began the side project, in the 1980’s, he set the price at just $3 to sew the new stripes on and has not raised it since. The sewing allowed him to meet many airmen across the base that he may not have met otherwise. People could count on him to help get their uniforms ready in preparation of their next promotion.
Jones has consistently shown his volunteer spirit and always gravitated towards taking on added responsibility.
One of the things that helped him do that was getting into the Base Honor Guard early on. As a member of the Base Honor Guard, he served his community and got to know even more people. He also stepped up from that position and became the superintendent of the group.
“It was always my goal to be the best I could be and I never shied away from a leadership opportunity,” said Jones.
Jones attributes some of his success to stepping out of his comfort zone by switching career fields. He said it can really broaden one’s scope.
“I think you need to do things that take you out of your comfort zone in order to make you a better leader,” said Jones.
There are three attributes that Jones said he looks for in a person that can help a person be successful. The first is attitude.
“I think anyone could have a successful career if they have the right mindset,” said Jones. “I can train anyone to do a job if they have a positive attitude.”
The other two attributes are teamwork and respect. Jones explained how everyone depends on one another to get the mission accomplished, so everyone has to work together and treat each other right. A leader should never ask someone to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. It’s about leading by example, forming relationships and getting to know people.
“I want to give folks an example to look to, to see that you don't honestly have to be somebody special to be the command chief,” said Jones. “You just have to be dedicated and love what you're doing, because I'm nobody special that’s for sure.”
Jones said the thing he will miss the most about his position at the 179th AW is the people.
“This place is second to none,” said Jones, “the attitude, the teamwork and the friendship. I’ll miss people coming in my office every day and saying ‘hi’ to me and walking around and seeing them, it’s my favorite part.”
Jones has called the 179th AW home for a long time now. Leaving is bittersweet, but he said he isn't too worried, because with every transition he has made so far he has kept the friendships from his past positions and continued to build new relationships as he moved on.
Jones elaborated that Mansfield is and always will be home to him. He will still be able to see and keep in touch with the members of the 179th AW and they can expect to continue to see him around.
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