Of his own accord
By By Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 02, 2012
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The Air Force is comprised of an extremely diverse group of individuals who come from many different backgrounds and sometimes other branches of service, and they have all volunteered to serve.
"There are plenty of Rangers in the Air Force - I am one," said Capt. Joshua Wendell, 366th Fighter Wing assistant staff judge advocate.
After graduating from high school, Wendell spent the next 19 weeks in multiple training programs preparing to be an Airborne Ranger. He was eventually assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment whose motto is "Sua Sponte" which means "Of their own accord."
"All I wanted to do was join the Army and be an Airborne Ranger," stated Wendell. "Once I accomplished that, I really enjoyed serving, working and eventually leading that caliber of soldier. Who wouldn't want to jump out of planes with their coworkers?"
According to Wendell, the impression of infantrymen is they are less intelligent or, as he jokingly stated, "knuckle-draggers," which he says is completely incorrect.
"An individual who joins the Army, volunteers for infantry basic training, Airborne school, and Ranger school is somebody who, with great specificity, knows exactly what they want to do with their life," said Wendell. "These individuals are not there for the college money or any other purpose, and they tend to be of above-average intellect as well as extremely disciplined."
By investing time and energy becoming proficient in his job, as well as maintaining uniform standards and physical fitness, Wendell was eventually was promoted to staff sergeant.
"I look back with great fondness at the times I served as a reconnaissance and infantry squad and rifle team leader," said Wendell. "My job then as a noncommissioned officer was to maintain and enforce standards. I learned mission accomplishment takes priority, as well as responsibility, accountability, leadership, and taking care of subordinates."
After a deployment to Iraq in 2004, he returned home and received orders to become an Army drill sergeant.
"As a drill sergeant I worked from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week," said Wendell. "It was very long hours but I enjoyed the opportunity."
After an honorable discharge in 2005, Wendell attended the University of Houston where he earned his bachelor's degree in political science.
"Eventually I decided to attend law school because I have always found law to be extremely intellectually engaging," stated Wendell. "I was very excited to take on this unique challenge."
Upon graduating law school Wendell was offered an opportunity to once again serve his country.
"I remember being impressed with the level of intellect and professionalism displayed by Airmen during my time as a noncommissioned officer stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.," said Wendell. "I decided to accept a commission and be a judge advocate."
Although, with his unique prior service experience, he is a not the standard Air Force JAG.
"He is an exceptional attribute to this office," said Capt. Jerred Kelly, 366th Fighter Wing assistant staff judge advocate. "His past military experience and perspective are extremely helpful, especially when resolving issues for young Airmen who are progressing into a noncommissioned officer role."
Typically, young JAG officers are new to the military and still learning about law and the responsibilities of being an officer.
"His nine years of prior service experience, most of which he was as an NCO, gives him an advantage compared to other judge advocates," said Kelly. "Instead of learning both areas at once, he is learning one and perfecting the other."
With his vast experience there is one value which is most important to Wendell.
"In the end I believe it all boils down to integrity- always speaking the truth," said Wendell. "It's also part of our base motto. You simply cannot put yourself out there as an Air Force officer without having a strong sense of integrity. Furthermore, it is absolutely critical for a Judge Advocate to possess integrity."
When all is said and done, Wendell has not forgotten who he is or where he came from.
"At the end of the day I am a member of the profession of arms," said Wendell. "This is what I do, whether as an Airborne Ranger or as a Gunfighter judge advocate. This is who I am and exactly what I want to be doing."