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Guardsman keeps 202nd EIS rolling

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Andrew Jones, a heavy mobile maintenance mechanic with the 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, inspects the engine on a trencher, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Sept. 10, 2013. Working as a dual-status civil service technician, Jones is responsible to ensure all vehicles and heavy equipment used by the squadron is mission ready at all times. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech Sgt. Regina Young/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Andrew Jones, a heavy mobile maintenance mechanic with the 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, inspects the engine on a trencher, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Sept. 10, 2013. Working as a dual-status civil service technician, Jones is responsible to ensure all vehicles and heavy equipment used by the squadron is mission ready at all times. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech Sgt. Regina Young/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Andrew Jones, a heavy mobile maintenance mechanic with the 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, performs an operational inspection on a trencher, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Sept. 10, 2013.  Working as a dual-status civil service technician, Jones is responsible to ensure all vehicles and heavy equipment used by the squadron is mission ready at all times. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech Sgt. Regina Young/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Andrew Jones, a heavy mobile maintenance mechanic with the 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard, performs an operational inspection on a trencher, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Sept. 10, 2013. Working as a dual-status civil service technician, Jones is responsible to ensure all vehicles and heavy equipment used by the squadron is mission ready at all times. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech Sgt. Regina Young/Released)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Georgia native Master Sgt. Andrew Jones career started in 1983 as a traditional guardsman in the Georgia Air National Guard and continues today as a dual-status civil service technician.

He brings a breadth of knowledge and experience to the 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron as a heavy mobile maintenance mechanic and mentor.

Jones has a Masters of Automotive Service Excellence certification and was a high school automotive teacher. His knowledge of automotive mechanics and ability to teach assists him in managing and training members in his shop to identify, analyze, and repair vehicles and equipment during the week. His experience is especially beneficial to the traditional guardsmen who gain the training and experience they need during unit training assemblies.

Master Sgt. Jones, you joined the Guard straight out of high school, why?
I was in an auto mechanic technical program through my high school and when I graduated and tried to get a job everyone wanted someone with experience. I joined the Guard to learn a new skill. Ironically, I qualified as a mechanic and became an auto mechanic as a traditional guardsman.

Do you have any other military service other than the Guard?
Yes, the job market was terrible at that time, so after three months in the Guard I transitioned into Active Duty Air Force as an auto mechanic. I separated from the Air Force in 1988. I thought I was done with the military and returned to my hometown of Pine Mountain Ga., where 10 years later, I became a traditional guardsman in the 202nd EIS as a heavy mobile maintenance mechanic.

After 10 years, what brought you back to the Guard? I liked the organization of the military. Also, as a traditional guardsman it gave me time to disconnect from the routine and normalcy of civilian life. At the time I was an automotive teacher and it was nice to talk to grown-ups about things.

Being in the Guard is being part of a family. We look out for each other, take care of one another.

In 2005, you became a dual-status civil service technician. What does being a technician bring to your unit?
Technicians provide continuity and experience and are the backbone of the unit; we hold the fort down during the week.

When you joined the Guard, did you envision being a full-time technician?
No, when I joined the 202nd EIS I didn't understand what technicians were. When I learned it meant that I can serve as a civilian and a guardsman in a dual status position, I pursued the opportunity and was hired as a technician.

You've deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and are getting ready to go again, how do you feel about that?
This time I will be part of a Joint Expeditionary Team, working together with the Army. I enjoy being down range, being able to focus on getting the job done. It's an adventure and I'm supporting our mission.

This deployment I'll be celebrating my 50th birthday while I'm away. It's always tough being away from the family but the Guard has some great programs like Yellow Ribbon that help ease the burden of deployment.

What do you enjoy doing during your personal time?
I enjoy riding motorcycles and have ridden across the country. My goal is to ride to Alaska across the Yukon Territory.

My wife and I also own horses. We enjoy trail riding and camping together with the horses.