Chasing a dream and honoring his father.

March 13, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times; the best thing I love about the aviation community are the people I meet. Well, let me introduce you to Jacob. For the past 4 years, he's been one of the line crew for Atlas Aviation at Peter O Knight Airport in Tampa. A 2014 graduate of The University of South Florida, Jacob, 23, originally hails from the small beach town of Stuart, FL. This past week, I spent some time with Jacob during his last day of work for Atlas Aviation. On March 21st, he begins his Naval career as he ships out to Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI. He'll take on a mentally and physically rigorous 12 week program designed to mold him into a Naval Officer. Training will take place under the “nurturing” guidance of Marine Corps Drill Instructors(DI) and Navy Recruit Division Commanders (RDC).

Jacob was kind of enough to do a Q&A session with me. I invite you to read the interview and get to know a little behind his motivation and determination.

Those of us who are involved with aviation can trace our interest to a certain moment in our life. What sparked your interest in aviation?

"Like most aviation geeks, I cannot keep my head out of the clouds. Since my earliest days, my eyes would follow every hint of engine noise coming from the sky. My late-father and I always shared a similar passion for it, and I can recollect memories of him bringing me to airshows or sitting in our boat a few miles from the airport to watch the jets fly over. Once I finally got in the air, I realized how much freedom you have up there. There really is no better feeling."

It's obvious that aviation is a big part of your life. What other interests and activities do you enjoy?

"I enjoy hobbies that include any sort of outdoors fitness (cycling, mountain biking, hiking, running, etc.), firearms (working on them, building, shooting, reloading ammunition), hockey (I played on recreational leagues up until I was offered the Navy contract, and safety suddenly became an issue), and pretty much anything involving the military, its technology, tactics, and history."

All branches of the U.S. Military have an aviation branch that serve different roles. What steered you towards Naval Aviation?

"As I mentioned, my father had a rooted interest in aviation. One day while watching one of the fighters perform at an airshow, I recall him explaining how he always wanted to do that, but regretted never chasing that dream. The military pilot was one of my childhood dreams, but so was being a star super-cross racer, along with an astronaut, and a rock star. As I grew older, however, I remembered what my father always said, and I realized that I didn’t want to live with the same regrets. In my high school years, I began looking into this career, and found that it is not entirely impossible. Since then, I’ve devoted my time and effort to chasing my dreams, and almost feel as if I’m doing it for the both of us, which provides motivation. I also have a history of Naval service in my family, and prefer the lifestyle and opportunities the Navy has to offer me. Besides, the Navy has the best pilots!"

You're entering the Navy as a Student Naval Aviator (designator-13900). Besides obtaining your Wings of Gold, what other goals do you have for your Naval career?

"Well, I like to take things one day at a time, so my goals could range from completing indoctrination week at OCS, to becoming the Commanding Officer of a ship. Ultimately, I would like to receive my wings and become a Naval Aviator, someday cross the bridge to make Lieutenant Commander (and hopefully further), and to build a career that I can be proud of while in the Navy. While I spent ~2 years with the Naval ROTC unit at USF, I was inspired by a few specific Officers on the staff. Those men motivated me to become a better person and stay committed just by the way they did their job. My biggest goal is to make a positive impact on the lives of others throughout my career. Inspiring one sailor to go get his degree, to seek a commission, or just wake up every day and give 100% effort toward his duties is considered a success in my book."

Considering the process to be accepted as an Officer Candidate; Do you have any advice or suggestions for this interested in pursuing a Commission in the Navy?

"A very important aspect to applying is finding an eager Officer Recruiter who is just as excited to see you commission as you are. I was fortunate enough to have a Senior Chief who did everything he needed to in order to get me to the selection board flawlessly and on time. In terms of you as an individual, if I have learned anything in my short time here on Earth, it is that hard work pays off. Nothing comes free, and you must fight for what you want. If you’re seeking a commission with any branch, my advice is to start today. Get out and maintain an above average level of physical fitness, join whatever clubs, teams, or groups appeal to you, reach out and make connections to people that may be able to help you someday, and most importantly, focus on your education. Grades are just about the first thing the military looks at in an applicant, and without proof that you will perform well, they aren’t interested. Wake up every morning, and strive to be a better person than you were yesterday. Don’t make decisions out of fear and justify it with practicality. I live by the fact that there is no such thing as being “over-prepared”, so make every effort you possibly can to get where you want to be. Never be afraid of failure, and never give up on your dreams."

Jacob asked if he could add some final words and personal thanks:

"I would like to give a huge thanks to everyone who has lead and pushed me to where I am today. To my mother who has always been supportive and giving me hope, and my two brothers who have always been there for me to look up to, and I can strive to be a role model for. My beautiful fiance' who has stuck by my side for the past 5 years, and continues to cheer me on through my endeavors. To those in the USF NROTC battalion, the crew at Atlas Aviation, and all of my close friends who have pushed me that extra mile, or given me words of encouragement in tough times. To the U.S. Navy for providing me with this opportunity, and AECS (NAC/AW) Boney and the crew at NORS Tampa for all of your hard work. Most importantly, to my father, who inspires me every day to pursue my dreams, and strive to make him proud. I am thankful to have all of you in my life, and know that I couldn’t have come this far without you."


I appreciate Jacob taking time out of his last work day to talk and do the photo shoot. No doubt this next week and a half will be a whirlwind of preparation and good-bye's before he leaves for OCS. During this short interview, I learned things about him that never came up in our conversations the last couple of years at the airport. Personally, I am impressed by this young man's drive and motivation towards his dreams. For those of us a little further down life's journey, it's easy to just get caught up in our mundane routines and live on auto pilot. Hopefully, reading Jacob's words can reignite a flame in somebody who may have been side-tracked from their goals. Atlas Aviation is losing a great employee and the Navy is gaining one squared away future sailor! With that being said...Fair Winds & Following Seas, Jacob! And of course FLY NAVY!


 


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