Today’s veteran: Jim Scott, 76
Born: St. Simons Island
Residence: St. Simons Island
Service: Air Force, 35 years, 7 months
Recognitions: Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit Medal; Meritorious Service Award (five times); Air Force Commendation Medal (three times); Longevity Service Medal; Outstanding Unit Award; Presidential Unit Citation: National Defense Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal
Duty stations: Turkey; Korea; Hawaii; Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; Illinois; Hamilton Air Force Base, Calif.; Mather Air Force Base, Calif.; Randolph Air Force Base, Texas; Kelly Air Force Base, Texas; Turner Air Force Base in Albany
His story: Jim Scott wanted to attend college, but he knew it would be a hardship for his parents because they were already helping to pay for his older brother’s education.
Three days after his high school graduation, he was in basic training in the Air Force. He credited a strong home life for making an easy transition to military life.
“I know how to take orders and do things properly,” he said. “I was easily trained.”
Scott wanted to be a boom operator when he got stationed at Turner Air Force Base after training so he could be close to home. Instead of serving as part of a C-130 crew, he was assigned to the commissary.
“That was the greatest downer,” he said. “I complained to everyone.”
He decided to change his attitude when he realized he was “headed in the wrong direction” with his complaining. He had no idea how the decision would impact his career.
He ended up being named airman of the month and runner up for airman of the year after he changed his attitude and decided to work as hard as possible.
He was sent to Turkey, where he started taking college courses. His next duty station was at Hamilton Air Force Base, where he was the enlisted store manager with more than 60 employees.
He was a technical sergeant at the time and was still taking college classes when an aviation education officer on base told him about a program for enlisted personnel to become commissioned officers. He took the test and passed it.
“I wanted to take advantage of the education opportunities,” he said.
He spent a year in San Francisco earning a bachelor’s degree before he was sent to Mather Air Force Base for three years. He was sent to the Air Force Academy where he served as director of the cadet store division where he was responsible for distributing uniforms, text books and class rings.
His next duty station was in Korea, where he was the commander of a services squadron providing support to a wing on base including food, billeting, laundry, mortuary and the base exchange.
He returned to the United States to serve at Randolph Air Force Base on the Inspector General’s team looking at the different services facilities on bases.
His responsibilities continued to increase with each new duty station. He served as command services officer at Scott Air Force Base, as commander of services at Lackland Air Force Base, as inspector general for Air Force Commissary Services at Kelly Air Force Base and as the Air Force Commissary Services officer for the Pacific at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
His last duty station was as commander of the Midwest Division for the commissary stores for all branches of the military under a new consolidation program designed to modernize all the stores and have them operate under the same systems.
“It was not an easy process,” he said.
Scott said he never expected he’d make the Air Force a career and end up retiring as a commissioned officer.
“I didn’t think I’d be college material,” he said. “I was testing the waters to see how I’d do.”
Our Veterans runs Wednesdays. Contact Gordon Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at 464-7655 to suggest a veteran for a column.