Retired CMSgt, GS employee retires after 52 years

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The year is 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy signs a law for equal pay for equal work for men and women, Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his famous "I have a dream" speech while addressing a civil rights march at Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., and The Beatles released their first single in the U.S.

This was also the year that John Malone enlisted in the U.S. Air Force from his hometown of Pittsburgh, right after high school. Malone went on to serve the Air Force, as a military member and civilian, for a combined 52 years.

"I enlisted because I wanted to go to college after finishing high school," said Malone. "Also, at that age I just knew that I wanted to eventually get into the civilian service as well. My vision was to serve 20 years in the military and then go into the civilian service."

Upon entering active duty, the city boy from Pittsburgh was assigned to Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas -- which is closed now -- as his first assignment.

"The first thing I thought about was that it's 1963, the TV is on and lots of western movies were featuring cowboys and Indians in the Oklahoma and Kansas region," said Malone. "When I got this assignment, I had never been outside of the Pittsburgh area and for me this was a real eye opener. Everyone was friendly and that is where I met my beautiful bride-to-be in Topeka, Kansas through a catholic youth organization."

Eventually, Malone and his fiancée, Joyce, got engaged, and shortly after he received orders to the Philippines for 18 months. 

"Every day while I was there, Joyce wrote me a letter and she numbered every one of them so that way I could tell if I received them out of order," said Malone. "It kept our romance alive during that time in the military. When I came back in 1967, we got married after being engaged for 18 months."

Shortly after that, the next stop in Malone's career landed him at Norton Air Force Base AFB in sunny San Bernardino, California. Today Norton AFB is a Guard base, but he still has fond memories.

"My wife and I enjoyed all that southern California had to offer; the zoo, beaches and Disney Land," said Malone. "Then in March 1969 I got assigned to Phu Cat Air Base in the Republic of Vietnam. Everyone had to do some time in Vietnam back then."

After serving a year at Phu Cat AB, Malone was allowed to choose a follow-on assignment. He elected to return to Forbes AFB in Kansas.

"I was there from 1971 to 1973 and assisted in the base closure," said Malone. "After that, I updated my dream sheet because I wanted to go to Europe. My wish came true, because in my heart I wanted to go to Aviano AB in Italy. I took my family with me and spent five wonderful years there. My youngest daughter, Keara, was born there."

After five years in Italy, the Air Force called Malone back to the Unites States, this time bound for Cannon AFB, New Mexico.

"When I was at Cannon AFB I was involved in many community organizations, such as head soccer coach for the city, being an Eagle Scout, I was involved as a boy scout leader, parish council, as well as a leader in the base top three," said Malone. "In February 1981, I was interviewed and selected for a classified assignment in Las Vegas. I had been given 24 hours to make a decision to accept or decline."

Malone added that, "They never told me anything about the assignment and I had to go home that evening and talk it over with my wife. I said 'Hun, we can stay here because this is a great family town and it would be a great place to retire.' I had all these things going for me here and I was happy. The Air Force said 'We wanted you and you'll definitely make Chief.' So after a whole night of contemplating, I told them yes and the rest was history."

During his time at a Data Masked assignment, Malone was responsible for establishing the logistics supply support for the F-117 Nighthawk, to include designing and implementing the supply system for Tonopah Test Range.

"I had a hand in the early design, construction of the F-117 logistics systems. It was an exciting thing to be a part of," said Malone. "It was a pleasure and honor to work with the "best of the best" in the development of a premier weapon system."

When the F-117 moved to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, Malone opted not to accompany it. In July 1990, Chief Master Sgt. Malone retired after 26 years and started the second chapter of his life, working toward checking off a goal he set back in 1963.

"When the opportunity came to enter civil service, I just took it. There was no doubt," said Malone. "You could say I could make more money at other places, but you have to really enjoy what you're doing. I came into civil service in July of 1990 as the deputy chief of supply for the TTR."

In May 1994, Malone was selected to be the deputy chief of supply for Nellis AFB. The year 2003 saw the start of merging transportation, supply and logistics into logistics readiness squadrons.

"In 2007, the Air Force sent a team of members to Joint-Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas to help determine how LRS would function and how the different flights would break out and function," said Malone. "It was nice to be a member of that team and make an early footprint in the LRS formation."

For the 99th LRS, some highlights of direct program involvement in establishing logistics support included working with the F-22 Raptor, the 64th and 65th Aggressors squadrons, the F-35A Lightning II, and MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper.

"What we're really here for is for the rubber meeting the ramp and to ensure the fighter pilots get the combat training. Some ways LRS has done that is by ensuring that the aircrafts get fuel, parts and equipment is provided on time and on target, and solid logistics plans are in place," said Malone. "Our young Airmen and civilian force in the LRS have done an outstanding job in coming together in supporting our war fighters at Nellis AFB and Creech AFB."

Malone realized his dream of furthering his education when he graduated from University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He also attended Pennsylvania State University through the Air Force Institute of Technology, because the university had supply chain management and executive programs.

"I went back and got my certificates," said Malone. "The education I had always been dreaming of had finally become a reality. Not only college, but having the opportunity to attend Penn State University."

Throughout his time on active duty and in civilian service, Malone accrued numerous awards through his hard work and dedication. He was selected by Air Combat Command as the Logistics Readiness Senior Civilian Manager of the Year four times, Air Force Association Outstanding AF Civilian Program Manager of the Year in 2008 and the Air Force Logistics Readiness Senior Civilian Manager of the Year in 2012.

After retiring from civilian service as a 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics manager on July 20, 2015, Malone is looking forward to starting the third chapter in his life in Garnett, Kansas, enjoying family, friends and travel while he is still healthy and able. In 2017, Malone and his wife are looking forward and planning a trip with their children Michelle, Shawn, and Keara to Ireland to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

"I am blessed to have a wonderful wife and family and they were very much a part in making my career successful," said Malone.

Before he departs, Malone had some words of wisdom for younger Airmen and his civilian counterparts navigating their way through the Air Force.

"Enjoy it while you can because 52 years goes by awfully fast," said Malone. "Next thing you know, you'll look back and wonder where all the time went. Take the good out of an assignment and create memories. The friends that you make in the military, if they're true friends, I don't think you'll ever lose them. They will be there."

He also encourages young Airmen that no matter what career field you are in, do the best you can while you're there, even if you are getting out in four years.

"My mom and dad have passed and are not here for me to say 'hey look what I did,' but in my heart I know they are proud," said Malone. "You have to find a balance in your life. Make up the difference when you're taking from you're family to give to the Air Force. You have to find ways to give back to your family because that's one of the most things you can have. I have to say to my Air Force family, thank you for an exciting and wonderful ride."

After more than 25 years of service at Nellis AFB, Malone is going to be missed by the people who knew and worked with him.

Malone's longtime friend Joseph Dirosario, 99th Mission Support Group deputy director of installation support said, "He's a great friend and teammate, who is very knowledgeable and always willing to help.  It's been a joy working with him and I'm going to miss him.  He's been a great asset to Nellis AFB over many years."