Military News

Friday, November 06, 2015

Spain-Bound Charleston loadmaster has emotional ties to Ultimate Reach 16-1

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 countrymen.

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 do."

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 aboard.

"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 said.

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 dream job.

"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."

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