Master Sgt. Sidney Johnston: essential IT mission support

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jeremy Roman
  • 301st Fighter Wing

The 301st Fighter Wing mission is to train and deploy combat ready Airmen. The 44th Fighter Group, a geographically separated unit assigned to the 301 FW, has a Reserve Citizen Airman who plays an integral role to helping that mission happen…Master Sgt. Sidney Johnston.

Johnston is the client systems non-commission officer in charge who is responsible for ensuring information technology equipment such as computers, phones, printers, etc., are operational from the wall to the 44 FG end-user.

“End-user IT support, while not flashy, is critical to mission accomplishment,” said Johnston. “I can't imagine an Air Force Specialty Code [or job] that does not need support from client systems in order to accomplish their mission. What I find most satisfying about my job is troubleshooting and successfully resolving an issue. The more complicated, the better.”

The Florida native was born in Cocoa Beach and raised in Jacksonville. His story began with a passion and included a path yet waiting to be discovered.

“As a young man I lacked direction and didn't really have a good feel for what I wanted to do with my life. As suggested by my step-father, I joined the Air Force,” said Johnston. “I've always had an interest in IT. I grew up with some of the earliest personal computers in my household, and thus far I've not lost any desire to continue.”

Johnston has served 17 years. On March 25, 2003, he enlisted with active duty Air Force and served in that status for six years. He has been stationed at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., Royal Air Force Croughton, United Kingdom, Patrick AFB, Fla., Dover AFB, Del., Tyndall AFB, Fla., and Eglin AFB, and has also deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, and Al Udeid AB, Qatar. He enlisted as a traditional reservist with the Air Force Reserve in 2012 and joined the 44 FG in 2014.

In his civilian career, he serves as a senior systems administrator leading sustainment and engineering efforts with the U.S. Navy. He credits the experience he gained in his military career as well as his ability to problem solve to help advance both organizations.

“Since we are a geographically separated communications element, we coordinate higher-level efforts with the installation’s communications squadron and service various programs within the 44 FG that are traditionally performed by the base’s communications squadron,” said Johnston. “When I first served as on active duty, I held an information management AFSC and worked out of the unit’s command support staff. While there, I assisted with the entire range of CSS functions while also taking care of the now-client systems duties.”

Johnston, who can quote nearly any episode of the television show, ‘It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, has expanded his passion and found his trajectory through the Air Force and Air Force Reserve and offers this encouragement to future IT service members following in his footsteps.

“The ability to work well in a team is a must, as well as being willing to perform a variety of disparate tasks not necessarily aligned with your AFSC,” said Johnston. “Being a Reservist directly contributed to the networking required to get the job I currently have.”

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