SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
Today, Mr. Stephen Jones, Director of the Airlift Allocation Directorate, spent his final day in the AOC before his much-deserved retirement, marking the end to an almost 50-year career of service to our country.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Jones said. “It probably won’t hit me until I don’t have to get up at 5:30 in the morning.”
Jones grew up in Camden, a small saw-mill town tucked away in the quiet countryside of Eastern Texas. His senior year of high-school, Jones was still undecided regarding what he wanted to do with his life. Many of his friends were already attending Baylor University, so he applied and was admitted shortly after. During orientation, Jones met an Air Force Captain who was assigned to the university as a Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor. While Jones initially had no intentions of joining the military, the instructor explained that, by joining the ROTC program, Jones could become a pilot, pursue any major he liked, and have it all paid for by the Air Force.
“That sounded like a pretty good deal to me,” Jones recalled.
He was later granted a pilot slot and a full-ride scholarship to complete his education. Jones received his commission in 1974 and was sent to Webb Air Force Base, Texas in 1975 to begin pilot training. There, he learned the ins-and-outs of operating mobility aircraft and would later become qualified to fly the C-141 Starlifter out of Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina. Here, he would meet, and later marry, his wife. After several years in the Lowcountry, Jones was reassigned to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware to fly the C-5 Galaxy.
Jones’ career would eventually bring him to Scott Air Force Base where he served in the Inspector General’s office for three years. He retired as a Colonel in 2002 and spent two years working as a civilian before being hired to the AOC in 2004.
He’s been here ever since.
“It’s the only thing I’ve known for 47 years, the Mobility Enterprise,” Jones explained while reflecting back on his time working in the AOC. “Every day is the same, except it’s different. It’s the same mission but different requirements, different problems to solve.”
Despite his passion for mobility operations, Jones is ready for retirement saying, “there comes a time in every person’s career when you pass on the reins to the next generation.”
When asked what he’ll miss most about the AOC, Jones paused thoughtfully before replying, “Working with these people. Every day.”