489th MXS Reserve Citizen Airman wins Leo Marquez award

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle
  • 307th Bomb Wing

Tech. Sgt. Johnny Brown doesn’t seek the limelight. He doesn’t have to, it seems to find him.  

The 489th Maintenance Squadron egress technician recently won the Leo Marquez Award for 2020 for Air Force Global Strike Command.  He was also named the 489th Bomb Group’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year during the unit’s February unit training assembly.

But at first glance, it would be difficult to know the quiet, unassuming Airman is a star performer at both the group and major command level. His humble approach belies a work-ethic that has made him the go-to egress technician in the B-1 Lancer community.

“He is the epitome of the total force integration Airman,” Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Baker, 489th MXS superintendent, said of Brown. “Whenever it is time to deploy, they always ask for him by name.”

Brown’s reputation for excellence made him one of the first maintainers on the scene when an ejection seat failed on a B-1 during an in-flight emergency, forcing it to land at Midland International Air and Space Port.

He made the two-hour trek from Dyess Air Force Base, helping to make the first assessment of the failure. When it was determined the problem was systemic throughout the B-1 Fleet, the Air Force called for a safety stand-down, forcing one leg of the bomber triad out of the air.

Brown and his team were tasked with getting the Dyess jets back in the air in one year.

With the eyes of the Air Force upon him, Brown led a team of active-duty Airmen that completed the task in 90 days, waving off the pressure and focusing on the job at hand.

“I just told my Airmen we have to be like a duck in a rainstorm,” said Brown with a smile. “Yeah, we’re going to get hit, but we’ll just have to let it roll off of us.”

Still, Brown said it was important to shield his team from as much of the pressure as possible. He looked for ways to help his Airmen take a breather from the frenetic pace, finding breaks in the action to let them go home and spend time with family.

“When you are doing 12-hour shifts, it can be pretty easy to get tired of seeing the same people all the time,” he explained.

That simple philosophy comes from the heart. Though his work is a matter of life and death, his family is what motivates him to get up each morning and do the best job possible.

“Without my family, it might be hard to have the extra drive needed to do the job,” said Brown, smiling. “By taking care of them, it allows me to take care of everyone else.”

The Texas native is only eight years into his Air Force career, more than half of that as an Air Reserve Technician with the 489th MXS.  He takes the same calm, measured approach to his future that he takes with the pressing problems of today.

“I just keep doing what needs to be done and see what happens,” he explained. “I’ll let the stripes come as they will because my main goal is to just be a part of the Air Force.”