McMinnville native Jon Flanders has put an end to a storied military career, retiring as a lieutenant colonel with the Air Force Reserve.
He served for three years in the Army and 22 years in the Air Force for a combined 25 years of military experience.
“Eventually, I went around the world and ended up in the same place,” said Flanders. “Twenty-five years is roughly a generation. If each generation does its part, no matter how small or how great, together we can change the world.”
Lt. Col. Flanders served all over the globe, including Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Hawaii. “It was tough duty in Hawaii,” he quipped.
Flanders retired as the Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the Inspector General at the 78th Air Base Wing at Warner Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. In that capacity, he was responsible for base-wide exercises and inspections, as well as complaints and congressional inquiries.
When asked about memorable missions, Flanders said responding with humanitarian relief after the Asian tsunami of 2004 left a lasting impression.
“There were close to a quarter of a million people killed and 1 million people displaced so this wasn’t something where we went in, dropped off water, and left,” said Flanders. “This was a six-week effort where we responded with hospital ships to the area to treat the acutely wounded and we had to rebuild much of their entire system.”
In his retirement speech, Flanders mentioned an important date -- April 15, 1953. He said that’s the last time a U.S. ground troop was killed by an enemy fighter plane or bomber aircraft engaged in combat. That was during the Korean War.
“Since then, the United States has had complete dominance of the skies in every war zone, skirmish, hot spot, and battle,” said Flanders. “That 65-plus year tradition continues to this very day.”
Flanders served in a combat zone in Kuwait, but he was pleased to say, “I never came under fire and I never shot anybody.”
Flanders served on active duty for nine years in numerous logistics and transportation roles including vehicles, plans, readiness, and aerial port operations, as well as executive officer to PACAF/A4.
He joined the Air Force Reserve as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee to HQ PACAF where he served as exercise Battle Captain and other key positions.
Lt. Col. Flanders was the Director of Operations then Commander of the 25th Aerial Port Squadron, 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama prior to his current assignment.
He was deployed in support of operations Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
In his civilian capacity, Flanders is president of Botanico, Inc., which is involved in agriculture and horticulture production, sales, and service.
Jon is married to Mrs. Stacey “Pipi” Flanders and they have three children: Cole Cathey, Will Cathey, and Chloe Flanders.