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Lofton set to retire after 30 years of service

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Ebony Bryant
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Life often has a way of coming full circle.

For Col. John C. Lofton III, 82nd Training Group commander, his Air Force journey will end where it began as he is set to hang up his uniform and leave the Air Force from the very place he started more than 30 years ago. He will relinquish command during a ceremony on July 7, 2022, and retire on a later date.

The colonel first set foot on Sheppard in May 1991 as he enlisted the Air Force and was sent here to train as a power production specialist. After completing his civil engineer course, he went on to serve at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, where he was selected to commission as an officer. However, when the base closed in 1994, the record or Lofton’s selection for commission was lost. 

His next assignment took him to Warner Robins AFB, Georgia, where he was again selected to commission. After completing his Bachelor of Science in psychology at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, Lofton was commissioned as a second lieutenant. His training would again bring him to Sheppard.

“I was commissioned as a maintenance officer and my first assignment as an officer was Eielson (AFB), Alaska, and we worked on F-16s and A-10s there,” Lofton said. 

Throughout his career, Lofton has returned to Sheppard many times for training. Looking back, he said the impact Sheppard has had on training hasn’t changed much from the time he was an Airman starting out in power production. 

“Not a lot has changed with the footprint at Sheppard,” he said. “Being a maintenance officer, I’ve had all but one of my ancillary training occur here at Sheppard… I came here for two years as a group commander, but I probably served about a year and a half at Sheppard considering TDYs and training prior to me arriving as a group commander.”

Lofton built on his experience over the years and has helped draft a vision for a more forward-looking approach to training. He said although aircraft are being upgraded with newer technologies, the Air Force is still training the way it has trained to work on legacy platforms. He said he hopes the work he has done at Sheppard will help lay the foundation for a transformation in training that keeps up with the newer technology and better prepares Airmen for future operations. 

“We need to evolve our training to become the training we need for future aircraft and future operations,” he said. He said he believes new Airmen entering the Air Force will be the change needed to drive the service to the next level. 

Looking at all that he has seen in his 29 years and six months in the Air Force, Lofton is said he is confident he is leaving the Air Force in good hands. 

“The Air Force is going to keep going,” he said. “Challenges might be different, situations will definitely be different, the people will be different, but the dedication is not different. We are in an all-volunteer service, and the one thing that is common across all of us in the Air Force is that we all believe in something higher than ourselves. And as long as we have that common ground, anything is possible.”