Airman's MTI lineage spans three generations

  • Published
  • By Mike Joseph
  • 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs
Growing up, Staff Sgt. Jason Paxton knew it was only a matter time before he would follow in the family's boot prints.

While it's not uncommon to see family lineages in military service, what makes the Paxton family stand out is how they chose to spend part of their Air Force careers.

Sergeant Paxton is now going down the same path chosen by his father and grandfather as a military training instructor.

"Even when I was in high school, I knew I was going into the Air Force," said Sergeant Paxton, a 323rd Training Squadron MTI. "And I always knew at some point I was going to be a TI because I thought it would be cool to be a third generation TI."

The Paxton MTI lineage started 40 years ago. Jack Paxton joined the Air Force in 1954 to leave West Virginia "because there was really nothing for me there." He arrived at Lackland from Vietnam in 1970 to become an MTI. He spent the next four years as an MTI before retiring to a base civilian job.

It wasn't long after Mr. Paxton's retirement before Jack Paxton Jr., one of six children, followed his lead into Air Force blue.

"About a year after high school (in 1978), Dad woke me up one morning and said, 'You've got an appointment at the recruiter's office,'" Mr. Paxton Jr. said. "(At the time) I didn't know what I wanted to do -- my dad nudged me along. If I could go back and do it all over again, I'd do the same thing."

The "same thing" translated into an Air Force career. Twenty-two years later, Mr. Paxton Jr. retired as a senior master sergeant. He spent eight of those years in the MTI corps as a training instructor, section supervisor and superintendent.

"I knew I wanted to be a TI because I grew up with my father being a military training instructor," Mr. Paxton Jr. said. "The same thing with Jason -- he was around this environment when I was an MTI."

Jason, who joined the Air Force in 2001, arrived at Lackland AFB after deciding the time was right to apply for an MTI position. He was certified as an MTI last June.

Perhaps it was destiny calling when Sergeant Paxton was assigned to the 323rd TRS. The squadron is housed in the same recruit housing and training building where his father spent six years in the MTI corps. But that's not the only connection. Mr. Paxton Jr. was the MTI for Sergeant Paxton's current supervisor.

So when the three generations of Paxtons gathered at the squadron recently, it was like coming home.

"Jason runs into people all the time who knew me," Mr. Paxton Jr. said. "When I see what Jason's going through, it brings me back. And every time I walk in this building, it's like nothing's changed."

"I saw some trainees at parade rest (coming in) and I almost yelled at them," he added with a laugh.

But his personality and that of his father suggest otherwise.

"Anybody who meets Dad and Grandpa knows they are very, very laid back -- big time," Sergeant Paxton said. "Dad never brought it home. And if I didn't know, I'd have never thought Grandpa was a TI."

His father quickly agreed about his father. "People look at Dad as the nicest guy in the world," he said.

Mr. Paxton, too, enjoyed being an instructor and remembers his time at Lackland AFB.

"I still go back to the TI business in my dreams. It never leaves you," he said. "Sometimes I wake up marching, 'hut, two, three, four.' Some of it is TI and (some from Vietnam experiences)."

All three Paxtons agree job satisfaction far outweighs the long hours and demands.

"Three generations of TIs ... that says something about the career field," Mr. Paxton Jr. said. "I'd do it all over again. This was by far the best job I ever had."

As his father and son concurred, it explained the Paxton boot print in the Air Force.