Athens Co. Native Among Guardsmen With Jobs On The Line< < Back to
Major Jeremy Ford is an Athens County native who's now living in Mansfield and flying C-27J aircraft for the Ohio Air National Guard.
That could change, however, if the Air Force follows through on a plan to eliminate the C-27 program.
A media event hosted by the 179th Airlift Wing aimed to rally support to save the C-27 from the Department of Defense's proposed budget cuts.
Congress is asking DOD to chop nearly $500 billion from its budget over the next decade.
Officials here are sympathetic with that, but argue the C-27 is the better and cheaper option for delivering supplies and troops here at home and overseas.
And they say the cut would result in the closing of the Mansfield base and doing away with roughly 800 jobs, including Major Jeremy Ford's.
"It is a possibility. I'm still hopeful, I'm faithful, that a decision will be made that will be made that will keep us around. If not, hopefully I'll be able to stay in Ohio, though," said Ford. "For the Air Guard, it's a little different. They could cut you and if you wanted to be released, they could release you. You're not really required to fulfill that military obligation at that point. Now, some of us are civilian employees here — we're federal technicians, we're on essentially on a GS pay scale. And then we are also traditional guardsmen on the side. So we have a federal job here, that could be cut and we could still, if we wanted to, maintain our guardsmanship somewhere else if we wanted to."
Ford is 33-years-old and a Federal Hocking High School and Ohio University graduate.
He's been flying out of Mansfield for six years, deploying three times with the unit, each deployment taking him to Afghanistan. Two of the deployments were in a C-130 airplane, the last one in a C-27.
"It's always a great experience to go over there and serve your brother branches and serve your brothers in arms and supply them with the needs that they have. Getting their beans and bullets to them, getting them moved to certain locations and getting them back. It's always fulfulling and rewarding to be able to support your combat troops on the ground. It's an important mission, I think this plane serves it well, I think that it's a very efficient air-frame to use over there. I think we're much more able to fulfill the needs of those front line soldiers than we were in the C-130. I think we're much more flexible with this airplane than we were before."
Ford's job in Afghanistan was to deliver everything from water to blood to bullets to our troops located in remote areas.
He downplays the risk involved but says his parents were still apprehensive.
"I have a brother who is actually a green beret, so he's been deployed much more than I have, and obviously mom's always worried, but I tell her, "mom, it's like an all-inclusive resort over there". I get as many meals as I want, they're all paid for, they're all free. I get a free bed to stay in, you know I'm pretty much out of the danger's way. My experience as an airfcraft guy is much more different from someone on the ground, supporting the fight on the ground."
Major Ford calls the C-27 "small" and "nimble" and praises its performance and says he hopes it will stay in service.