Service before self

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
In November of 2015, one of the most memorable experiences happened to Senior Airman Jonathan James, 341st Security Forces Squadron patrolman, who said he will remember it for the rest of his life.

James said there was a gate runner who intentionally went around the gates, started to navigate the barriers and went hands on with James and another patrolman.

"We had to use force to take the individual down and apprehend him," James said. "We did everything we were trained to do for that particular situation."

The situation worsened as James realized that the apprehension was turning into a suspicious package situation.

"A good friend and supervisor who I highly respect, and another patrolman went around to do a vehicle search, which is protocol for a suspicious package," James said.

As James' fellow Airmen conducted the vehicle search, the apprehended individual made an alarming comment to James.

"The individual apprehended on the ground looked up to me and said, 'your buddies just blew up,'" James said.

Because of the comment made, James and his fellow security forces brought in the explosive ordnance disposal team to determine whether or not it was a real threat.

After all protocols were safe, the individual was taken into custody.

"If you ask any one of us who were on scene at the time, we were just doing our job and what we were trained to do," James said. "We didn't do it for any type of special recognition."

James, along with the other 341st SFS members on scene at the time were recognized by base leadership.

James has been serving his country since June of 2011.

"My grandfather was one of the first pararescuemen back in 1950," James said. "Hearing some of his stories made me want to join the Air Force."

James joined the Air Force to serve his country, deploy, get a free education and travel the world.

"The typical duty day for members of SFS is from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and sometimes can even be a 15-hour day," said Master Sgt. Robert Renfrow, 341st SFS flight chief.

James starts his work day at 4 a.m., and is expected to be at guard mount by 5:30 a.m.

"Guard mount consists of all of our guys who man the control centers," said Renfrow. "We go over our daily briefings, information from the previous night's team and the daily operations."

According to James, the Air Force sends down daily checks that must be accomplished.

"One requirement that must be accomplished is our daily perimeter checks to ensure there isn't anything suspicious or holes in any of the fences," James said. "In the past we had a bear jump the fence."

James also patrols the base to make sure everyone is safe, and people are following the rules.

"Laws are in place for a reason," James said. "No one likes to be told they were caught because of something they did wrong."

James wishes people would know that when they are pulled over, written a citation or corrected for something, members of law enforcement are not doing it to be mean, but to keep them and other members of the base safe.  

James also volunteers his off-duty time keeping people safe as a volunteer firefighter for the Vaughn Fire Department in Vaughn, Montana.

"I have been involved with firefighting since I was 16 years old, and am a lieutenant for the Vaughn Fire Rescue," James said. "As a lieutenant, I do not have the full privilege to run an incident, but I can if absolutely necessary. Normally my role is to lead the crews inside a house fire."

According to James, he met his wife while volunteering for the Black Eagle Fire Department.

"A couple of years ago, my wife and I were responding to a house fire," James said. "We made it to the second floor and were called to evacuate the building. As soon as we walked out of the front door, the roof collapsed where we were standing."

James has been volunteering as a firefighter with Montana since February 2012, and occasionally volunteers with the Cascade County Search and Rescue.

"I like to think I am keeping people safe, but ultimately the Air Force does come first," James said.