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Two deployed friends combine 78 years of AF service

Master Sgt. Doyle Easterling and Senior Master Sgt. Paul Jordan share a light moment together at the end of a sucessful F-16 engine test run at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 20, 2014. Both are deployed out of Carswell Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas to Bagram, and will be retiring this year after a combined 78 years of military service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Gary J. Rihn)

Master Sgt. Doyle Easterling and Senior Master Sgt. Paul Jordan share a light moment together at the end of a sucessful F-16 engine test run at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 20, 2014. Both are deployed out of Carswell Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas to Bagram, and will be retiring this year after a combined 78 years of military service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Gary J. Rihn)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Two Airmen with the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, have both been turning wrenches on jet engines longer than most people in the Air Force have been alive.

Senior Master Sgt. Paul Jordan, a native of Butler, Pa., enlisted in 1972. His co-worker and now good friend Master Sgt. Doyle Easterling, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, enlisted in 1978. Between them they have an impressive 78 years of service in the U.S. military.

Both are deployed here from Carswell Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, where they are full-time Air Reserve Technicians working in the engine shop. They initially deployed to Kandahar Airfield, and then relocated to Bagram with the transition of their squadron's F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The two have worked together for 11 years, and consider themselves a great team.

"We have made good calls, done great maintenance, kept the aircraft in the air, and gotten along great," said Jordan.

Jordan's career began in the Army during the Vietnam era, before transferring to the Air Force and going to work on B-52s. From there, he moved to the Air Force Reserve with the 911th Airlift Wing in Pittsburgh for 14 years, before ending up in Fort Worth in 2003. He is currently on his fifth deployment.

"You always remember the friendships you make on deployments. The trips can be challenging and rewarding, but you always remember your friends," said Jordan.

Easterling's career also began with the Army, before moving over to the Air Force Reserve in 1983. During his years in the Air Force, he has worked on F-4, F-16, F-100 and F-110 aircraft. Regardless of the engine type that he was working on, Easterling has always lived by the same credo.

"What gets done, or doesn't, reflects on you. We think of the pilot, not the aircraft. If we don't do our job, somebody's not coming home. And here, if we miss a sortie, guys on the ground can die, and I take that personally," said Easterling.

Jordan echoed that sentiment. "Everything's flown when it's supposed to, every time. We never missed a sortie here, and we're proud of that. The soldiers and Marines are out there in the dirt every day; whatever I can do to return them home safely is icing on the cake," he said.

The two constantly bounce ideas off of each other, and look for ways to constantly improve.

"When I'm in a position, I always try to leave it better than I started. If you don't do your job, somebody else will," said Easterling.

As the pair nears retirement, they find themselves reminiscing about their careers and lives.

"For the past 41 years, I've stuck with two things; the U.S. Air Force, and my wife. And I don't think I made a mistake with either one," said Jordan.

Easterling summed it up with "I do love this job. It's never 'I', it's always everybody, it's always the team. Always."

Both Airmen will be retiring shortly after returning home from this deployment.

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