Two brothers march alongside their father
By Staff Sgt. Brandon A. Boyd, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 13, 2014
PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- He speaks quickly with a certain believability and earnestness about him and sports a fresh, short haircut not 2 days old. Perhaps that's because he's trying to set an example.
As a First Sergeant in the Oregon Air National Guard, Senior Master Sgt. John Phillips reports directly to the 142nd Fighter Wing commander on matters of enlisted morale, welfare, and conduct.
As a father, he reports to two sons, Lewis and Zach, both of whom dreamed of joining the military ever since they toured the Portland Air National Guard Base as small children, coming to see their dad's unique office.
"They'd come out here to the base for family day, Christmas parties, it was always an exciting place for them to visit," said John Phillips.
Phillip's sons said they both remember the awe and excitement they felt seeing and hearing the jets take off as kids when they traveled from rural Roseburg, Oregon to visit their dad at his unique workplace.
"My first memory was my dad introducing us to his co-workers in maintenance. We got to try on night vision goggles and flight suits and he took us around to see the different shops on base," said Lewis Phillips, John Phillips' eldest son.
The culture of the Oregon Air National Guard is often described as a high-performing, close-knit group but few embody these values quite like the Phillips family. Not only did Phillip's two sons decide to join the military, both followed their dad into the Oregon Air National Guard and the 142nd Fighter Wing. They now work just a few steps away from each other.
Senior Airman Lewis Phillips said he was inspired by his father and decided to join the military during his junior year of high school but he wanted to follow a career path that would prove beneficial both in and out of uniform.
After selecting the medical field as a career specialty, Lewis Phillips now works as a search and extraction medic for the 142nd Medical Group Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP). His job is to stabilize patients in emergencies and help transport them from the field for more comprehensive medical care.
Senior Airman Zach Phillips, the younger son, now works as a fuel systems specialist for the 142nd Maintenance Squadron, following in the footsteps of his father, who worked as a jet engine mechanic on the F-4 Phantom II, the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the F-15 Eagle.
"Zach's been learning about jets his entire life and it's very cool to know that we've worked on some of the same jets," said John Phillips.
Despite the often challenging military life with deployments, training and time away from home, John Phillips praised his wife Teri for her unwavering support in not only his career, but also for supporting their two sons when both decided to follow in the footsteps of their father into the military.
"I'm glad they chose the Guard," said John Phillips. "It's a totally different culture and I think it's a great environment for them."
As for the level of expectations put upon the family due to John Phillips' duties on base, he likened the situation to coaching soccer.
It's like being the coach's sons when they're out here," said John Phillips. "The expectation is always that they are held to a higher standard."