The Flames of Freedom

  • Published
  • By SrA Ruben Rios
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing
It’s never too late to go after your dreams.

Sometimes goals take a little longer to achieve than one would think.

Other times, people don’t even realize they want to achieve a goal until they experience a life changing event.

This is the case for 2nd Lt. Joseph P. Bodd, 732nd Airlift Squadron, pilot trainee, with the 514th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

“It happened when I was on temporary duty, a flyaway, with the 732nd AS,” said Bodd. “All the pilots were gentlemen. They saw my interest and showed me the cockpit and told me about the process. For them, they were just enjoying their job, but for me, it became the day I knew I wanted to fly.”

Bodd began his U.S. Air Force career as an active duty health services management specialist in December 2009.

While some people would agree that serving one’s country is a large sacrifice, Bodd desired to service his community further.

After serving his first contract in the Air Force, Bodd went on to join the New York City Fire Department as a firefighter in Alphabet City’s Engine 28/Ladder 11 in December 2013.

But if that wasn’t enough, Bodd then decided to reenlist in the U.S. Air Force - this time as a Reserve Citizen Airman at Freedom Wing, JBMDL, while still serving his local community as a firefighter in Ladder 11.

Bodd left to attend Officer Training School in January 2020 and graduated on March 13, 2020.

“You’re just in the mix,” said Bodd. “In the fire department, when people call 911 for help, we’re it. If we can’t help, no one can - the buck stops with us.”

Bodd compared this sense of responsibility and love of service to that of his responsibilities in and love of the Air Force.

“It’s the same thing in the Air Force,” said Bodd. “If we can’t deliver air power and support down range, no one can.”

It took many years but Bodd worked toward one goal at a time, eventually discovering he wanted to become a pilot for the U.S. Air Force.

“It was a long process,” said Bodd. “After I finished getting my college degree, I took flying lessons. At the same, I studied for the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test and the Test of Basic Aviation Skills.”

It takes a lot of work and dedication to accomplish even some of these feats, but Bodd enjoys every aspect of his professional life.

“For me, it’s like I get to play for the best team in the world twice,” said Bodd. “I have the privilege of serving in the world’s greatest fire department and the world’s greatest air force.”

Bodd is an example of someone who successfully accomplished various goals in life, shifting his attention from ambition to ambition, never slowing down. He served his country as active duty military, yet found himself, afterwards, still serving the public as a firefighter in the civilian sector. Eventually, topping it all off by aiming high - literally - he decided to set his sights on becoming a C-17 Globemaster pilot.

“In regard to both, the biggest take away for me is the firehouse and the flying squadron have the village mentality,” said Bodd. “With both, there’s no way we can go through everything we do without each other. It’s nice to know I’m surrounded by family regardless of where I’m working any given day.”

The next time you feel your goals are out of reach, stop and think again.