by Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs
11/6/2015 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Crossing
the Atlantic Ocean to take part in a multi-national exercise takes most
Joint Base Charleston Airmen far from home, but for one 16th Airlift
Squadron loadmaster, it took him closer to home and heart.
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Akers is a dual citizen of the United States and
Spain and was hand selected by his leadership to be part of Exercise
Ultimate Reach 16. Ultimate Reach is an annual U.S. Transportation
Command sponsored, live-fly exercise designed to test the ability of
18th Air Force to plan and conduct strategic airdrop missions with the
82nd Airborne Division.
And this year's exercise dropped those Paratroopers about an hour from Akers's home town in Spain.
Being a part of UR 16 gave Akers a chance to visit his country of birth
and showcase the capabilities of the U.S. Air Force to his family and
Akers was born on Torrejon Air Base, a military installation in the city
of Madrid and spent 23 years living with his mother in Spain.
According to Akers, he was dissatisfied with his personal
accomplishments in Spain and his lack of motivation to attend college so
he decided to move to the U.S.
"I joined the Air Force because I wanted to do something important with
my life and be part of an organization with a great purpose," Akers
said. "I learned about the job of a loadmaster and how they get to see
the world and I knew that's what I wanted to do."
The airdrop portion of the exercise took place in Zaragoza, Spain, approximately an hour from Aker's hometown
According to Akers, members of his family will be on the ground during
the airdrop to observe the joint operation between the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization member nations. They will get a perspective of what
he does on a daily mission.
"I'm excited to see my family," Akers said. "Ultimate Reach is a huge
exercise which demonstrates what we can do, and I can't believe I'll get
to show my family in Spain what I do. Even though we are separated by
distance, I am close with my family and they are all proud of what I
His father and grandfather were maintainers in the U.S. Air Force, and
as a loadmaster with the 16th Airlift Squadron; Akers travels the world
in the back of a C-17 Globemaster III. While the pilots fly the
aircraft, the loadmasters are in charge of the cargo and all passengers
"I have found fulfillment in my life as a loadmaster," Akers said.
Akers said he has tried to live up to the Air Force Core Value of
"Excellence in All We Do" since he joined the military in 2010. He was
promoted ahead of his peers to the rank of senior airman; he was named
the Levitow award recipient, the highest award given during Airman
Leadership School; he is currently a member of Special Operations Low
Level Generation Two, which is the 437th AW's mission that supports
specific Joint Chief of Staff missions.
Although he has accomplished great things during his five years in the
Air Force, he said he is humbled by the Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne.
"The Soldiers I've met are fearless and I'm glad to know they are on our
side and are willing to take care of business for our nation," Akers
Though Akers enjoys his time in the back of a C-17, he is currently
working on his bachelor's degree, which will bring him closer to his
"One day I want to earn a commission and be a C-17 pilot," Akers said.
"It's the best job in the Air Force and I would love to continue doing
missions aboard the C-17. Maybe one day I'll participate on an exercise
like this as a pilot."