Some in the business aviation industry leave behind their families and jobs to serve in active war zones. In the continuing AIN series intended to recognize those in our community who defend the way of life we continue to enjoy back home, senior editor David A. Lombardo spoke with Jet Works paint shop manager Chris Nath about his service in the Air Force Reserve. This is Chris’s story. If you or someone you know in business aviation is absent and in harm’s way on our behalf, we’d like to hear from you.
The F-16 is a reliable aircraft but it does require constant attention. I’m
an F-16 fuel systems technician specializing in the removal and replacement of
all components associated with the fuel system such as fuel pumps, fuel flow transmitters and turbine pumps. I also troubleshoot fuel leaks and system failures,” Chris Nath told AIN.
“I have always wanted to serve my country, but I felt I needed a civilian career for my family. The Air Force Reserve gave me the opportunity to be both in the military and have a civilian career at the same time,” he said. “I love working on fighter aircraft; the sense of accomplishment that comes from keeping them operationally ready to protect our country. I also love that I’ve been able to travel all over the world.” And travel he has.
Nath is assigned to the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, formerly known as Carswell Air Force Base–a Strategic Air Command base. “I’ve been fortunate to have traveled the world. I have seen almost all of Europe, including Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium and France. I’ve also been to Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, a little island in the middle of the Indian Ocean called Diego Garcia, and more than 40 states,” he said.
Nath has also deployed twice to Iraq: once in 2007 and again in 2009. He has also deployed to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. On those deployments he was a mechanic and flying crew chief assigned to a KC-10 air-to-air refueling tanker.
“The KC-10 is basically a flying gas tank holding more than 360,000 gallons of fuel. When assigned to the KC-10 we’re always staged far away from the actual fighting but when I’m working as an F-16 fuel systems specialist we get a little closer to the action.”
In civilian life Nath is the paint shop manager for Jet Works of Denton, Texas. The company paints both corporate and military aircraft.
“The job can be stressful at times but at the same time it’s fulfilling work. I get a lot of satisfaction from being able to take an airplane that is in dire need of a paint job and transform it into one that looks brand new. What makes it even better is I work with a great bunch of guys who really enjoy what they do,” Nath said.
“They have been supportive and thoughtful when I’m away for Reserve duty. My lead helps out by taking on extra duties and working lots of overtime. It seems like every time I deploy or get sent off on a mission we get busier, but the team seems to manage and get the job done. I couldn’t do what I do without their commitment and support. We’re a team.”
“I also couldn’t have an Air Force Reserve career if it weren’t for my family. I’ve been married to Judy for 19 years and she’s an independent woman. I know her and the kids will be fine when I’m away. She always finds a way to get everything done,” Nath said. “It’s the same with my two daughters, Christa Jae (25) and Chelsea (17), and our granddaughter, Aryanna, who is going through the terrible twos. I know I can rely on all of them to do what needs to be done.
I miss them very much when I’m away– not to mention my own bed and good home cooking!
If you know someone from the business aviation industry who is currently serving our country in a war zone, please contact David A. Lombardo at firstname.lastname@example.org.