TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Master Sgt. Michael Jones, 325th Operations Support Squadron first sergeant, couldn’t anticipate the surprises his career would have in store for him when he enlisted in 2007 to be a crew chief on heavy aircraft.
Many years later in 2021, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Jones was introduced to Senior Master Sgt. Nicholaus Wilson, 325th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant, who happened to be Jones’ recruiter all those years ago.
“I needed more than what life offered me at the time,” said Jones. “After a long, one year, botched attempt at college, I decided school wasn’t for me. A few days later, after the semester ended and I returned home, I went to the recruiting office in Texarkana, Texas, where I met [then] Staff Sgt. Wilson.”
Jones already had an idea of what he wanted to do in the military. His father was prior Army, but he encouraged Jones to pursue the Air Force, which led him to Wilson, who secured him a career maintaining C-130 Hercules aircraft.
“I remember him walking in, head down, skinny guy [originally] from Arkansas,” said Wilson. “We talked a little bit about how he was looking for something to help make life better than what it was and he wanted to work on airplanes. You could see such great potential. He had the energy, he was honest and trustworthy.”
After graduating Basic Military Training, Jones headed to technical school at Sheppard AFB, Texas, and Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, for additional C-130 training. For more than the next decade, Jones performed his duties as a maintainer, Airman and leader as he moved up in rank. However, in 2020, he decided to make a career move by becoming a first sergeant, graduating the academy in 2021.
“I became a shirt for multiple reasons,” said Jones. “Although I have a strong passion for airplanes, my love for people will never go away. I have made mistakes in my past and it’s been strong leaders in key positions that have helped me through my hard times. I have a story…I believe many Airmen can [relate to].”
After sewing on the diamond, Jones began his first shirt duties with the 325th Communications Squadron. Later that year, Jones’ attended a Tyndall first sergeants meeting to welcome a new first sergeant to the installation. Lo and behold, it turned out to be none other than Wilson joining the 325th Fighter Wing, and as Jones’ peer this time.
“I’ve done nothing but brag about Wilson since I joined 15 years [ago],” said Jones. “I tried looking him up multiple times in my career but to no avail; I thought he was long gone and retired. I was completely dumbfounded by how we linked back up. From that point on, we have been on a mission to catch up and create a bond beyond recruitment.”
Wilson said he was also surprised to have reconnected with Jones in such an unexpected way, but not surprised that Jones has joined the ranks of first sergeants.
“It’s very cool to see the success he has had [knowing] he had the potential,” said Wilson. “Good things happen to good people. Jones is a great Airman, a great person, a great first sergeant and is great [at understanding] adversity; it speaks volumes to his character.”
The relationship between Jones and Wilson has manifested in a unique way over that last 15 years. Two Airmen, two careers, two journeys and two paths have converged here at Tyndall among the first sergeants.
“The Air Force is very small community; you never know who and when you will work with along the way, so create meaningful relationships along the way,” said Jones. “How will you be remembered?”