8th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO beats the odds

Tech. Sgt. John Bishop, 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO (Courtesy photo)
Tech. Sgt. John Bishop, 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO (Courtesy photo)

8th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO beats the odds

by Staff Sgt. Anthony Hetlage
U.S. Air Force

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Standing outside an oil-slicked vehicle bay carefully sifting under the hood of a truck, Tech. Sgt. John Bishop inspects the coolant. As the NCO in charge of vehicle maintenance for the 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Bishop knows his career field demands a strong work ethic to maintain more than 480 vehicles across the Wolf Pack.

Bishop grew up in a rough area of Toledo, Ohio. He was raised by his mother, Frances, after his father passed away when Bishop was 3 years old. Early on, his mother instilled in him a strong work ethic that he honed from a very young age.

“I valued a dollar because I didn’t grow up with any type of money,” Bishop reminisced. “I had to earn my income starting at seven years old, which helped my mom pay our bills as well as buying myself nicer clothes and a better bicycle.”

Bishop did odd jobs around his neighborhood to help his mother makes ends meet. He started out by cutting grass, shoveling snow and raking leaves. At 12 years old, he started to caddy at a local golf course.

Bishop’s mother, Frances, worked a plethora of jobs from JC Penny’s to retirement home cleaning to support him throughout his childhood. Nonetheless, Bishop witnessed his mother always working hard, displaying a good work ethic for her son, while also competing in body building competitions. This is when he discovered the value of a dollar and his appreciation for fitness.

“I found my love for fitness at an early age,” recollects Bishop “I am fitness oriented whether it be lifting weights, running, Spartan races or cycling. I learned a lot from my mom including work ethic and fitness.”

Frances wasn’t always around to help guide her son down the right path because of her hectic work schedule.

“I didn’t really have someone to sit me down and tell me, ‘these are the type of people you should hang out with or not be around, or the reasons why you should focus on school,’” said Bishop.

Many of his childhood friends joined gangs or found themselves caught up in local gang affiliations.

“I’ve unfortunately had more friends pass away from gang violence than those I’ve lost in the military which is troubling,” said Bishop. “I learned from other people’s mistakes which helped me make better choices.”

Working odd jobs, playing basketball, running and biking helped keep him from making those mistakes.

“My goals growing up were to just make my mom proud, stay out of trouble and work hard,” said Bishop. “I was really into basketball, I would go to school, go home, do homework real quick and then I was outside every day; all day until the sun went down.”

After high school, Bishop worked automobile production lines. There he started out building the front ends of Jeep Wranglers. He took any opportunity given to him to progress and learn more. He worked on various vehicles from the interior of the Mazda 6 to the exterior of the Dodge Nitro. He even trained as a forklift driver so he could support any production line.

“I worked wherever I was needed on the production line in Toledo,” said Bishop. “To get extra hours, I would work 8 hours on the production line before doing another 8 hours operating a forklift.”

At the age of 24, he decided to join the Air Force in 2010, making his mother very proud.

“Her dad earned a purple heart during World War II and she had pictures of him all over the house,” Bishop said proudly. “When I joined, she had my picture right next to his.”

Entering the Air Force, Bishop knew he wanted to have a mechanical based career field.

“I love to work on vehicles and electronics,” he said. “I got vehicle maintenance as my career after going in basic training with an open mechanical contract. I’m a car guy so I do enjoy my job.”

After a four year stint working in the automobile industry, his mother was overjoyed Bishop was able to find a stable career that he liked in the Air Force.

“My mom told me she was happy I joined the Air Force and that I found a good career,” Bishop lamented. “It was one of the last conversations I had with my mom.”

Bishop’s mother passed away in 2014.

Bishop’s career in vehicle maintenance, has sent him across the U.S. while working on a myriad of vehicles. He described being stationed at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina as his favorite part of his career.

“I was able to work on vehicles that 90 percent of people in the Air Force don’t get to work on like boats and jet skis,” exclaimed Bishop. “I also got to help train Special Warfare Operators in vehicle related tasks to ensure they were proficient when conducting real-world missions down range.”

His work at Pope made him feel very, fulfilled.

“If I could spend my entire career in special operations, I definitely would,” said Bishop. “I feel great appreciation for being in the military and being able to support our nation in combatting terrorism.”

He also met his wife at Langley AFB, Virginia, Walida, whom he met through a mutual friend.

“She’s absolutely sent from God, she is smart, dedicated, caring and loyal,” Bishop said. “I have never had a better support system than her. She’s supported me through deployments and more than 40 TDYs.”

Walida is currently living in the U.S. until Bishop completes his tour at Kunsan Air Base. Following his tour, they will continue on to Bishop’s dream location, Kadena Air Base, Japan. But he’s not letting his time at Kunsan go to waste.

“I love to help people. I want to keep developing the professional development here and help people get to the next level in life personally or professionally,” said Bishop.

He’s started a run club at Kunsan to help those who love to run or want to improve fitness.

“The gym is my utopia,” said Bishop. “My wife jokes that I love the gym more than her. The gym allows me to let go. Sometimes, I can go for a 45 minute workout and then it quickly turns into a 2 hour workout. I’m just out there appreciating life and admiring the scenery.”

Bishop’s love for running led him to train for Air Force half-marathon last year where he also competed in the Fly, Fight and Win Challenge. The challenge consists of a 5-kilometer race the first day and then the second day consisted of a 10-kilometer race and then immediately into a half-marathon race.

“I was pretty spent but it was an amazing opportunity,” Bishop said. “I was able to run with Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein. I actually got third place in the military challenge for the half-marathon.”

I placed between the top five and top ten for the 5K and the 10K. I’ve run over 100 different races over the past three years, averaging 1,000 miles ran per year.”

His work ethic has pushed him harder and farther in his personal and professional life. This includes training for full marathons or to become a master resiliency trainer or first sergeant.

“He’s an inspirational leader, not only for vehicle maintenance but for Kunsan,” declared Senior Master Sgt. Dudley Watson, 8th LRS vehicle maintenance flight chief. “He helps people in and out of the squadron. He brings a lot to the table and I think our Airmen are going to leave Kunsan being better for having met Bishop.”

Bishop says he believes that you cannot live life to the fullest without pushing your limits and going outside your comfort zone.

“My work ethic is nonstop,” declared Bishop. “I don’t believe in any free handouts. I believe you have to work hard to be where you want to be.”

His work ethic has helped him grow from a young man working odd jobs to becoming a successful Airman.

“I absolutely appreciate life right now. I wouldn’t be who I am today with this success without the struggle,” Bishop exclaimed.

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