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Son of Keesler member earns wings
First Lt. Josiah Gaffney, the son of Warren Gaffney III, 81st Communications Squadron, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., earned his wings as an F-16 pilot from the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard AFB, Texas, Sept. 21, 2012.
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Son of Keesler member earns wings

Posted 10/4/2012   Updated 10/4/2012 Email story   Print story


by Susan Griggs
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

10/4/2012 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss.  -- The son of a member of the 81st Communications Squadron earned his wings as an F-16 pilot from the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard AFB, Texas, Sept. 21.
First Lt. Josiah Gaffney, son of Warren Gaffney III and his wife, Lisa, of Ocean Springs, honed his interest in flying as a member of Keesler's Civil Air Patrol squadron.

"Growing up, I had always been fascinated by airplanes and aviation in general, but joining CAP gave me my first exposure to using aircraft to accomplish a public service mission that could save lives, such as search and rescue and coastal patrol," said the lieutenant, a 2009 graduate of the Air Force Academy. "That experience of doing something I enjoy while working with a team of dedicated people to accomplish an important mission definitely encouraged me to continue pursuing a flying career in the Air Force."

At the academy, he earned a bachelor's degree in political science and ranked 14th academically and 32nd overall in a graduating class of 1,050 cadets. In his final semester, he was one of 11 cadets out of a student body of more than 4,400 to be named to the academy's Aces Club by earning a 4.0 grade point average.

"Every cadet at the academy takes a standard set of core courses covering a broad range of disciplines from physics and engineering to the liberal arts," Gaffney explained. "I think acquiring a working knowledge of such a wide variety of disciplines helped set me up for success in follow-on schooling and training."

Gaffney was one of four academy graduates selected that year to attend the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, where he earned a master's degree in 2011.

"My graduate studies in public policy generally focused on less technical subjects like politics and philosophy, yet required integration of technical disciplines like mathematics and statistics," he pointed out. "On the other hand, success in flight training requires a basic understanding of physics, aerodynamics and how engineered systems work together."

Gaffney said his degrees may not directly relate to being a pilot, but are important to his future as an Air Force officer.

"First, a major component of public policy study is government administration -- essentially how to make policies and management decisions within a government organization to achieve that institution's public mission," he said. "The Air Force obviously falls in the category of a government institution with a specific mission, and I expect that as my career goes forward, I will have increasing management responsibility and perhaps even a measure of influence on organizational policies at some level.

"Second, as a combat pilot, I could find myself directly involved in executing Air Force missions with significant geopolitical implications in today's complex political and security environment," Gaffney continued. "I think my knowledge of political science and international security could, at the very least, help me understand and appreciate my own role and the Air Force's role in the larger political and policy picture."

The lieutenant and his wife, Stephanie, whom he dated while the family was living in Belgium, married three days after graduation from the academy.

"Stephanie has definitely been my most important supporter through the years of school and training, especially during the past year of flight training, where she dealt with numerous 12-hour days, plus me bringing work home, with patience, love and understanding," he said. "My parents have also been an important source of support and encouragement ever since I began my Air Force journey more than seven years ago."

Military service is a hallmark of the Gaffney family. Warren Gaffney served in the Army for 15 years and Lisa Gaffney was in the Army for two years after growing up in a Navy family. For 22 years, Lisa Gaffney home-schooled her six children. In addition to Josiah, the other Gaffney children are Aaron, who serves in the Air National Guard in Presidio, Calif.; Dwight, who lives in Virginia Beach, Va.; Esther and Gideon, students at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College; and Samuel, who's attending Army basic training for the infantry.

The lieutenant will be stationed with the Arizona Air National Guard for follow-on F-16 flight training.

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