NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --
Thanks to an Air Force recruiter with a penchant for McDonalds, Master Sgt. Johann, 926th Wing, was inspired to enlist while working the drive-thru, because he thought it would be cool to wear the uniform.
Johann joined the Air Force in 2005 right out of high school. Fast forward 12 years, and he is being named one of the Air Force's 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, representing Air Force Reserve Command.
“I joined the military because of 9-11,” said Johann. “I wanted to have a purpose in my life.”
Johann came into the Air Force “open general.” He then worked in Services where he deployed multiple times supporting lodging, recreation and mortuary affairs.
After his first term he was burnt out on Services and considered separating. This time the thanks went to his mentor. “Luckily my supervisor at the time, Master Sergeant Sacko Raffensperger, encouraged me to explore other career fields and pushed me to get my retraining package together.”
Johann liked the idea of airborne linguist since he spoke three languages, but that career field wasn’t available to him at that time. He then looked into the 1U career field, which needed a lot of staff sergeants. “I guess everything happens for a reason,” he said.
In 2014 Johann transitioned from active duty to the Reserve and joined the 926th WG. The 926th WG is fully integrated into the active-duty’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft mission, and reservists work side-by-side their active-duty counterparts every day to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance operations.
“It speaks volumes to his character and commitment to the Total Force to be selected as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year,” said Chief Master Sergeant James Loper, 926th WG Command Chief. “His accomplishment highlights how vital this mission set is and the daily impact it makes on the Joint Force.”
Johann’s first duty with the 926th WG was as a section chief for a Total Force Integration team that operated the MQ-9 camera in support of combatant commanders and ground forces. He now serves as an MQ-9 instructor and evaluator Sensor Operator.
But his work doesn’t stop when he’s off duty. In his limited free time, Johann is finishing his bachelor’s degree and plans to start on his MBA when that’s done. His aspirations also include getting his private pilot license and then an instrument rating and a commercial pilot license.
Johann’s squadron superintendent attributes his selection for OAY to his going above and beyond. “Master Sergeant Johann separated himself by continuously challenging his flight to be the standard that others try to achieve,” Chief Master Sergeant Nathan said. “He persistently worked to improve himself and those around him in all four pillars of the Air Force.”
“What this award does not show, is all the Airmen who are now setting new goals because of his leadership,” he said.
Johann spends many long, hard hours accomplishing the mission and his ambitions, but he never loses sight of the fact that his success is thanks to the entire Air Force.
“I would not have been nominated as an OAY without my team and leadership,” said Johann. “My active-duty and Reserve squadrons have the most outstanding pilots, sensor operators and intelligence personnel who tirelessly fly and support 24-7 combat operations lines with minimal manning,” he said. “These professionals uphold the highest aircrew standards by prosecuting targets and eliminating enemy combatants to keep our country safe.”