As part of Veterans Month, we will be featuring local veterans to thank them for their service to our country. We will feature just a few veterans, but we want to remind everyone to thank all of the veterans in their lives. Although November 12th is Veterans Day and this month is designated to show gratitude, we should thank those who have served every day and every month.
“We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause.” — Ronald Reagan
“It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America.” — Barack Obama
The first veteran recognized in our series is Jody O’Millian, who is the president of the county’s United Veterans Council (the honor guard, who performs at funerals). O’Millian also is a member of The Seneca County Veterans Service Commission. He also is a trustee of the Tiffin AMVETS post and is a service officer in Tiffin’s VFW and American Legion. O’Millian is from Tiffin and graduated from Mohawk High School in 1985. Soon after O’Millian came back from his military service in 2006, he started a job at Cooper Tire in Findlay. He said he felt like something was missing at that time. When he moved back to Tiffin four-and-a-half years later, he still felt like something was missing. He later found that his involvement in the aforementioned military groups was exactly what he was missing. “It was the camaraderie that was missing,” O’Millian said.
Here is O’Millian’s story:
What branch did you serve in and why did you choose that branch?
I served in the Air Force. In 1985, I joined right after high school. I chose the Air Force because I didn’t want to be in the mud or at sea. I had a thing with space and space shuttles, so the Air Force made sense.
Why did you decide to serve?
I don’t have a really solid answer. I grew up on a farm. I knew I didn’t want to go to college, I didn’t love school. I left for the military and joined the Air Force because I was intrigued by airplanes. I got lucky because it suited me. Once I got past the first year or two, it really suited me, working near and on airplanes. I miss it to this day. My family doesn’t really have a history in the military, but my uncles served in World War II.
What was your job/assignment?
I worked on cargo planes. I was a crew chief, which is the manager of the plane. I had my name on the side of the plane. People came to us with problems, we were responsible for making the plane look good and neat. My primary job was inspections and then getting issues fixed.
O’Millian’s military career lasted 21 years, 3 months and 23 days. He served at Yokota Air Base in Japan for 5-and-a-half years, at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany for 1-and-a-half years, at Ramstein Air Base in Germany for 1-and-a-half years, at Moody Air Base in Georgia for 3 years and at McGuire Air Base in New Jersey for 3 years.
Later on, O’Millian became an instructor, he said his claim to fame is that he was the final Air Force instructor for C-141s. He spent his final two years working in the Maintenance Operation Control Center, or MOCC. He said it was a high-pressure, but rewarding job. O’Millian retired as a Master Sergeant with a pay grade of E7.
What were some of your most memorable moments?
In Japan, I really liked their honesty, their respect for family and honor. They are very trustworthy. Once, I got off a train, but I dropped my pen on the train. A man grabbed the pen and ran it out to me. I said, “you just left your train for a worthless pen.”
In Germany, I loved the food, the beer and the scenery. Europe is just beautiful. They don’t have billboards.
In Georgia, the people I met and the friends I made were the most memorable.
In New Jersey, people were nice, some of my best, lifelong friends, I met there. We still go on trips together.
Overall, I loved the people, the camaraderie. Meeting new people and traveling was great. I’ve been to 31 countries and 41 states just while I was in the military.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
In the beginning, one thing that was difficult, they’d make me go out and pick up cigarette butts, and then they’d say “we cleaned up.” I would say, “who is we?” It was an attitude shift, it took a little while to get used to.
Another one, the saying in the Air Force is “family first, mission always.” When I got married, that was a challenge, learning when to say no to a mission. The biggest thing was, when do you tell the mission no? It was a tough balancing act.