Veteran Looks to Strengthen, Protect Sheppard Air Force Base

Jon Larvick knows a thing or two about what it takes to get an aircraft off the ground.

Having spent more than 20 years in the Air Force as an aircraft maintenance officer as well as a fuels distributor in logistics, he understands all the moving parts and different missions involved from start to finish to launch a jet. That intricate knowledge will come in handy as he leads the Sheppard Military Affairs Committee as the organization's new president.

"Any time we saw an airplane take off, especially with my fuels background, you'd just kind of smile," the Williston, North Dakota, native said. "They couldn't do that if we didn't do our jobs."

Larvick, who retired from the military in 2011, said he was looking to leave the rat race of the corporate world for a new opportunity that would allow him to get involved in the community and reconnect him with the Air Force, and a position that would enable him to make a difference. That's when he ran across the SMAC's web page and the advertisement announcing it was looking for someone to succeed former President Tom Whaylen. The job would not only meet those three personal requirements, but also return him to the base where he trained in 1997.

"I did well, but I always felt like I was missing something," he said. "I was either so busy or some other things that I couldn't get back into the community. I really wanted to be involved in the church in the community.

"The reward you get used to with a career in the Air Force where you feel like you're kind of giving back; you're providing something for the greater good, for the lack of a better word."

Larvick, who began working as the SMAC president in May, said the first 60-90 days are to assess the organization and put into focus what he wants to do as its leader. That includes looking at growth opportunities in areas of need for the Air Force such as a shortage of pilots and aircraft maintainers. At the heart of his mission is identifying the strengths of Sheppard Air Force Base and leveraging those, because of the threat of future Base Realignment and Closure considerations.

One of those strengths transcends the fence around the installation, and that's the relationship the base shares with its surrounding communities, which has been noticed by high-level Air Force officials.

Larvich said new Air Education and Training Command Commander Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson recently visited Sheppard and attended a lunch hosted by SMAC.

"I don't think there was a city or local leader that wasn't there, and he noticed that," Larvick said, listing some of the guests at the event. "That's a typical reaction here in Wichita Falls. It's incredible. I think it's either the best or close to the best I've ever seen."

Larvick said he was part of a group when he was active duty that analyzed supply and storage at military installations for a BRAC round. Once all of the data is collected, it's sent to Congress for its consideration, making it then a political process that doesn't always follow Defense Department recommendations.

Larvick said he is looking forward to leading the SMAC and, with his diverse background, keeping the organization on track with what it does well — strengthening and protecting Sheppard Air Force Base.

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