Five presidents later, chief calls it a career

Airman Elliott Sprehe

Education most important benefit of career

Thirty years ago Jimmy Carter sat in the White House, the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the World Series and Chief Master Sgt. John Woods, 27th Maintenance Group, became an Airman in the United States Air Force.
On May 11 Chief Woods will finish his career with a retirement ceremony honoring the three decades he has given to the Air Force.
Chief Woods has always worked in weapons maintenance. He began his career at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., before being transferred to such places as the now-closed Lowry AFB, Colo., as a training school instructor, before making his final stop with the 27th Fighter Wing, where he will wrap up his career.
He said said he originally joined the Air Force primarily for education and had no intention of fulfilling the full 30 years until getting involved with his job and realizing that it was something he enjoyed.

He has since received that education by getting his bachelor’s degree in 2003 and his master’s degree in 2005, something that he stresses every Airman should seek to achieve.
“I spent a long time just doing one, two classes at a time,” said Chief Woods. “It took me a long time, but I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.”
“Making chief master sergeant was a great accomplishment, but no matter what, the education is more important than anything else,” he said. “It’s going to carry me through the rest of my life.”
Education is one of the number one things the Air Force has provided for him, said the chief.
No matter what, Airmen should always have a learning mentality, whether it’s college, the job or general knowledge, said Chief Woods.
“Every day I read something,” said the chief as he grabbed one of the books on his desk. “After 30 years, I still need to learn and I learn a lot from new Airmen coming in.”
Education was not the only influence on Chief Woods’ decision to continue to reenlist. He got married and began a family, which gave him an additional sense of responsibilty.
“The stability and the security that the military provides was a big influence,” said Chief Woods. “The military has given me the opportunity to provide for my family, and in doing that, do something for my country.”
One of the biggest things that he has learned in the Air Force was discipline, said Chief Woods, something he said he did not have when he originally joined.
“It showed me that I needed direction in life, early on,” said Chief Woods.

The lessons in life the chief learned will carry on as he reenters the civilian life to pursue a new career in either operations testing or becoming a teacher.
“The Air Force is an institution that will allow you to do and accomplish the things that you want to accomplish in life. You just have to use the tools given to you,” he said.
“If I had to do it over again, I would, for the most part, probably do it the same way,” said Chief Woods. “I don’t think I’m better than anybody else. My wife and I laugh when I say ‘I’m just glad to get up in the morning.’”
In regards to his retirement and future plans he said he’s ready to go yet he appreciates that he has accomplished the 30 years.
“The biggest thing I’ll miss is the people,” said Chief Woods. “The Air Force is not about hardware, not about machines, it’s about people. If you take care of the people, the people will take care of the mission.”