Bonds of Brotherhood

  • Published
  • By Courtesy article
By day, Ricardo Johnson works as a Customer Service agent for
American at LGA, greeting our customers at the ticket counter and
helping them check in for flights. By night, Johnny Tello is an Aircraft
Maintenance Technician (AMT), also for American at LGA, who services and repairs aircraft. Both are also in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in the 714th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. Over the last few years, both have trained in the same place at the same time and climbed the ranks to share the title of staff sergeant. And both recently volunteered for the same overseas deployment and are now serving together. But their paths had never crossed until a few months ago, during pre-deployment training.

“I was sitting at a desk filling out paperwork when I overheard someone
asking Johnny where he works,” said Johnson. “He responded ‘American Airlines at LaGuardia.’ I looked up to see if I recognized him from work, but I didn’t. So, I went over to him and struck up a conversation.”

It turns out that Tello and Johnson know several of the same people from LGA, and have many things in common besides their employer. They both maintain aerial refueling tankers in the reserves, share the same taste in music and both have families – including toddlers – waiting for them to get home.

This is Johnson's second deployment, and Tello's first. Until they return, they’re leaning on the bond they’ve formed with each other to get through their mission – a coincidental friendship they say has proven valuable when times get tough.

“We work the same shift at our deployed location, so we constantly see each other on the flight line,” said Johnson. “Making fun of and supporting each other through the difficult times has become the norm.”

Both plan to return to American and LGA once their deployment ends in 2017, and pick up right where they left off – with one exception. They’ll be making it a point to cross paths more often, sharing with each other their work, lives and appreciation of American for its unwavering support of their military service.

“I can only say – on behalf of all employees currently serving and those
who have served – thank you,” said Tello. “The support, flexibility and
understanding given to us by members of local and upper management
and the support from coworkers have been astounding. The ability to
leave at a moment’s notice to perform our military duties and return to
smiling faces and heartwarming welcomes is amazing.”