Ending an Air Force Career with a Jump and a Splash

USAF-yellock-c-130

Photo Courtesy U.S. Air Force

Staff Sgt. Johnnie Yellock II joined his teammates last month and jumped out of a C-130 Hercules – two years after the blast of an improvised explosive device severely damaged his lower legs, ankles and feet while he was on patrol in Afghanistan.

“The jump came and went, but the ability to be there with my friends was an experience I’ll never forget,” says Yellock II, whose father works at Lockheed Martin. “I’ll jump out of more planes, but I’ll never jump out of a C-130 again.”

After 28 surgeries, the jump into the water off Florida’s Emerald Coast was the culmination of his career as a combat controller in the U.S. Air Force.

“It’s motivational to see where he’s been and where he is now,” said his father, Johnnie Yellock Sr., a senior manager on the F-16 and F-22 Field Technical Support team. “He hasn’t given up, we don’t give up. It is amazing to watch. It’s really amazing to see it’s our kid, our son doing this.”

The younger Yellock followed the family’s tradition of service – both his father, Yellock Sr., and mother, Reagan Yellock, are retired Air Force.

Yellock II’s first deployment came in June 2010, when he did combat search and rescue for five months in northern Afghanistan.

He redeployed to Afghanistan in June 2011 and was there just 10 days before he was injured in the IED blast. Thanks to his training and determination, he continued to do his job as a combat controller while the unit was trying to determine how to get him out of danger. He was called in as a double amputee.

Once he was back in the U.S., the family was by Yellock II’s side for months during his recovery, which included 28 surgeries.

“My ankles are fused at 90 degrees,” he says. “Without the braces I can’t walk. With them I can jump out of planes.”

The Jump
“It wasn’t supposed to be a monumental act,” Yellock II explains. “It’s common for jumpers do get a final jump, for divers to get a final dive, for fliers to get a final fly. It was noteworthy because I am listed as 100 percent disabled but I still want to jump out of a plane.”

Before he was OK’d to do his final jump, he had to pass medical evaluations and complete other physical qualifications.

“If you watch the video and see the smile on his face, that says it all. That jump allowed him to close out his career on his terms,” Yellock Sr. said.

Yellock II medically retired from the Air Force on Oct. 18.

Yellock Sr. says he’s proud to work for a company that supports our men and women in uniform.

“It’s great to be able to support the guys and gals out there out there that are doing great things for our country,” said Yellock Sr., who spent 27 years in the Air Force. “My son was blessed to do that. We really live up to we never forget who we’re working for. That’s a true thing for any of our businesses – we actively support our goals as a nation.”

November 8, 2013

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highlights
  • Yellock redeployed to Afghanistan in June 2011 and was there just 10 days before he was injured in the IED blast.
  • After 28 surgeries, the jump was the culmination of his career as a combat controller in the U.S. Air Force.
  • “It’s motivational to see where he’s been and where he is now,” said his father, Johnnie Yellock Sr., a senior manager on the F-16 and F-22 Field Technical Support team.

SSgt Johnnie O. Yellock II receives the Bronze Star

Wounded warrior makes final jump

Staff Sgt. Johnnie Yellock Jr., a 23rd Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, makes his final jump before being medically retired Oct. 16, 2013.


SSgt Johnnie O. Yellock II Crosses Finish Line of 2012 Warrior Games 30K Race