At base in Hawaii, Centralia native's stellar Air Force career comes to an end
Col. John J. Roscoe, a native of Centralia, retired Friday from the U.S. Air Force during a prestigious military ceremony at Pearl Harbor-Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
Roscoe relinquished command of the 15th Wing at the base to Col. Randall S. Huiss.
His sister, Lynne Bridgers, and her husband, Henry, of Conway, N.C., were among the relatives and special friends in attendance. Roscoe is a son of Joseph Roscoe, Mount Carmel, and Jeanette Roscoe, Kulpmont.
Also attending the ceremony was Roscoe's former high school teacher and baseball coach, Tom Ryan, of Ashland, who has maintained close ties with the colonel for many years.
Ryan's niece, Bryel Frasch, a junior at North Schuylkill High School, had the privilege of singing the national anthem at the ceremony, conducted at the flag pole at Hickam, and was the featured performer at his farewell party in the Pacific Air War Museum.
Frasch, of Gordon, who was named 2011 Schuylkill County Jr. Idol, has sung the national anthem at various local and state events, including the 2014 PIAA Team Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey.
1984 Lourdes graduate
Roscoe, who was inducted July 6, 2012, as the base commander at Hickam, was selected for the prestigious post by Gen. Gary L. North, commander of Pacific Air Forces, air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command and executive director of Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff at Hickam Air Force Base.
The 47-year-old Roscoe, a 1984 graduate of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School, succeeded his Air Force Academy classmate, Col. Sam C. Barrett, as base commander at Hickam.
Prior to the ceremony, Roscoe responded via email to questions from The News-Item.
1. What or who influenced you to enter the Air Force and at what age did you know that was the career you wanted?
Actually, two events. I saw the movie 'Star Wars' when it first premiered and was captivated by the flying and the action. Then, a short time later, I was at the Mount Carmel Library and saw a book about F-100 Super Saber airplanes. I remember reading a passage from the pilot's perspective about how he was just a few hundred feet off the ground going 500 miles an hour through desert terrain. I was hooked. I mentioned to a friend of mine's father that I wanted to be a pilot and he said you want to go to the USAF Academy then. I started looking into it and knew I wanted to go there.
Coach Tom Ryan was interested in me playing baseball for Lourdes and I had intended on going there. One day before freshman year began, I was delivering newspapers and stopped by his house. He asked what I wanted to do and I said go to the U.S. Air Force Academy and become a pilot. By the time I was in eighth grade and 12 years old, I knew what I wanted to do. My parents were always very supportive. They never questioned my choice and have proudly stood behind me my entire career and I thank them for that.
2. Why did you choose a military career?
I knew I wanted to be a pilot and always figured a military pilot would be the way to go. It really wasn't until I was a young officer that I realized my career would be more than just flying. Don't get me wrong; I love flying, I always wanted to be a pilot and have been blessed to be one. I have flown for about 23 years of my career and have 4,400 flight hours. But my Air Force journey was much more about flying. It was about wanting to become a good leader, and I discovered very quickly it was always about being a part of something much larger than myself. Wisely, when I was a young lieutenant, a light bulb came on, and while I was happy about being a pilot, I wanted to be an officer more than I wanted to fly. Fortunately, I was blessed to be able to fly a lot, but being an officer has meant more to me.
3. What advice can you give to anyone thinking about entering the armed forces?
First, before advising, I'd have to say thank you to anyone who decides to serve their nation. Less than 1 percent of our population in the United States are in the military. That is a very special and unique group of America's sons and daughters, and the sacrifice they and their families make, no matter what the reason they join, is appreciated and should never be taken for granted by anyone.
My advice is try as early as possible to just have faith in the system and faith in the service they are entering. Initially, it may be hard to understand what is going on, but when you come to realize that you are part of an organization whose purpose is to serve, it makes everything else, as crazy as it may seem at times, understandable.
4. What are your future plans and where will you and your family live?
Two things gave me great personal satisfaction in the Air Force - working with people and being part of a winning team. That is what I want after the Air Force. If I can do that, and be somewhere my family is going to be happy and have a good life, I'll be fine. But, I'm still in the job hunt.
(Roscoe is married to the former Jennifer Bailey, daughter of Brian "Nails" and Carolyn Bailey, Morrilton, Ark. They have two children, Bailey, 13, and J.T., 11. His wife is an elementary school teacher and "home schools" their children.
Roscoe said, "She has been an exceptional military spouse. I could not have been successful without her or my children's support.")
5. Any final thoughts about your career?
I have no regrets other than having to choose at times the Air Force over my family. It wasn't always that I had to and I only did when I felt like I had to be there for the organizations I was leading. Their needs I always put before mine and as such, sometimes my family's. There were just times where I could not be there at events because of my job or deployments. However, I hope to remedy that after I retire, and be the father and husband they all deserve.
Serving my country has been incredible. Many things I experienced and learned defined who I was not only as an officer, but as a man. I started when I was 17, and it is all I have known. I will keep my memories and my time with those I served with close to me for the rest of my life. Leading and serving with incredible airmen who are exceptional has been and will always be the most distinct and humbling honor of my life. As I said earlier, they are America's sons and daughters and I never took that for granted. I always hoped I was worthy enough to lead them. They are simply amazing and inspired continuously.