John Austin, First Sergeant, Retired, US Army
John Austin grew in Long Beach, California. He attended Lakewood High, and while there he loved the great outdoors, spending time surfing, hiking, and was introduced to the world of motorcycles.
When John decided to join the military, the Army recruiter he talked to was dealing with him in a straight up manner, he knew it was the right direction for him to go in. The Army recruiter saw John had been working on small airplanes as an apprentice and said, “Can I interest you in helicopters?” John was hooked and made a career out of it. John served from 1978 – 2005, both active and in the reserves.
John entered the Army in July 1978 to learn helicopter maintenance and repair (MOS 67N-UH-1s!). He felt he was lucky to be in a unit that had a real “go to war” mission and a large number of Vietnam Veterans. He remains grateful for the opportunities and training they provided him.
John trained with the 7th Division and active duty/reserve units regularly and completed deployments to Korea (Team Spirit) and Central America as well as numerous support missions in the US.Maintenance & Leadership courses provided promotion opportunities leading him up to Aviation Platoon Sergeant (SFC). In 2003, John attended the First Sergeants Course, earning both a promotion and the Diamond! They began their deployment preparation and training in November 2003 and deployed to Kuwait & Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from March 2004 through March 2005.
“I was fortunate to deploy with a fantastic bunch of Soldiers as Charlie Companies First Sergeant!My personal goal as Company First Sergeant was to bring everyone home. I am pleased to report that we achieved that goal.”
As First Sergeant the stress levels were high. He had to reintegrate and some of the difficult memories have never gone away. He did not suffer TBI or any obvious wounds but the stress was very real – through the roof, and all he wanted as to get everyone home safely.
In 2007 John retired from the Army Reserves. He is blessed to have a supportive wife of 33 years, Carmen Austin, family and several close friends. He has ridden motorcycles all the way through. Once he bought a bike, he never stopped riding. Bikes and helicopters – forever! His riding has helped with his transition back to civilian life. Taking traffic free roads is great for stress reduction, being out with other veterans is great as well. Just being with them. Joining the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association has been a big part of that.
“I am honored to part of this years crew and want to help. It is perfectly in line with the CVMA. A mosaic of camaraderie. Really Important healing happens when the group comes together. It is a privilege and honor to be “returning”to Veterans Charity Ride 2018 as part of the road crew! The opportunity to ride along as Road Captain in support of VCR came about as several of my Brothers and Sisters from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association were first participants and then returned as mentors in the program. I feel I have gained much more than I have given, being part of Veterans Charity Ride; being with other Vets, some who have serious challenges to overcome, has been both rewarding and humbling.”
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