U.S. Air Force Academy cadet flies on father’s jet to attend his Chief induction ceremony

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Ashlyn K. Paulson

On Feb. 27, Cadet 3rd Class Jack Johnson, United States Air Force Academy, was invited to attend a sponsor-base visit at Tinker Air Force Base. Little did Jack know he would be flying on the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System to attend his father’s induction ceremony for chief master sergeant.

Chief Master Sgt. Dustin Johnson joined the Air Force in June 1996, served as an airborne radar technician for the AWACS and was promoted to the rank of chief master sergeant on April 1.

He currently serves as the squadron superintendent for the 552nd Operations Support Squadron. His wife, Sirese, was a member of the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron. Along with a grandfather who flew the B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II for the Army Air Corps, the Air Force roots run deep for the Johnsons.

Cadet Johnson didn’t hesitate when he was invited to visit Tinker as part of the sponsor-base program. Upon being picked up by an AWACS to fly from Colorado to Oklahoma, he was able to sit in his father’s crew positions and reminisce on his childhood.

“Being able to sit in the ART crew position was a surreal moment,” said Cadet Johnson. “When I was younger, I didn’t fully understand how the plane operated, and its contribution to the Air Force as a whole. Being in a tangible setting and able to understand the position in an operational sense was much more impactful.”

Once arriving at Tinker, Cadet Johnson was able to attend his father’s induction ceremony to chief master sergeant after more than 23 years of service.

“The effort that everyone involved put forth to make this happen is truly humbling,” said Chief Master Sgt. Johnson. “The serendipity of the timing of the USAFA visit aligning with the Chief’s Induction Ceremony is uncanny.  It’s amazing that he’s here for this event for me, his mother Sirese and his sister, Hattie.”

Despite the family lineage of military service, Cadet Johnson said attending the Academy was something he wanted for himself. While the military was convenient due to his family’s history of service, he wanted to dedicate himself to something larger.

“The decision to join the Air Force and attend the Academy was 100% his choice,” said Chief Master Sgt. Johnson.  “As far as becoming an officer, that was also his choice.  I told him it would open some more options for him such as becoming a pilot and higher pay, but I would be proud of him regardless as long as he gives his all to his chosen path.”

As Cadet Johnson is in his second year at the Academy, he has turned to his father many times for military-related advice.

“Growing up with both my parents in the military and interacting with commissioned and non-commissioned Airmen since I was born, I learned not to judge on whether the rank is on the sleeve or the lapel,” said Cadet Johnson. “Our family motto is that there is a story to be told and a lesson to be learned. My father and I have a very transparent relationship, allowing for open and honest advice and guidance on leadership, behavior, and any other military challenges that we may face.”

Chief Master Sgt. Johnson said he plans on being his son’s first salute when he commissions in 2022. Upon commissioning, Cadet Johnson said he plans on becoming a pilot.

“I am ecstatic that he’s chosen this life,” said Chief Master Sgt. Johnson. “I would be proud of him no matter what, but I’m honored he has chosen this path and I am able to serve with him.”