European Spotlight: Senior Airman Robert Maughan
Robert, how have you enjoyed living in Japan so far? I love it. I am from a small town called Clifton, Tenn., so living so close to a huge city like Tokyo has been a lot of fun.
How small a town in Tennessee? Let’s put it this way: There were only 15 people in my graduating class.
Did you play sports?No, my father and I built race cars. We started our own business called SAM racing out of my dad’s garage. We built engines.
Did you ever race them? Yes, I still have an ’85 Monte Carlo that I would race on a quarter-mile dirt track. We’ve been doing that for years. It’s good money if you win, but most people never make enough to offset the costs of how much they put into their cars.
Did you ever win?Not until the day before I left for Japan. I had just finished six months of tech school and went home and raced. I won a trophy and showed up to my command with it in hand because I had nowhere else to put it. People still joke to me about it today.
Why didn’t you become a professional race car driver? I always knew I was going to join the Air Force, because I saw how much the Air Force had done for my father.
What do you do now? Right now, I am deployed to the Middle East as a C-130 crew chief. The plane belongs to me. I have to make sure the plane is fit to fly.
Are you excited to get back to Yokota? Yes. My girlfriend is there, and I believe that I will have a 1992 Harley Sportster waiting for me when I get back. I have two weeks off when I get back from deployment and plan on hopping on that Harley with my girl and just getting lost.
Sounds like fun. How often do you ride?I have a 600 cc Suzuki GSX-R that we have taken on road trips all over Japan. The Okutama Mountains, Mount Fuji, and other places.
What kind of plans do you have for the military?I want to do 20 years, but at a minimum, I plan on getting my associate’s degree in aerospace management from the Community College of the Air Force. The program is 64 credits long, and I am only 15 short.
What is your favorite Air Force memory? During one deployment, we got face-to-face with an F-15 engine. It was tied down, and I got to see the engine running with the afterburners on. My clothes were vibrating and floating so much it felt like they weren’t even on. I felt naked, but it was really awesome.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?I really love turning a wrench and getting dirty.
For whom do you have your greatest love?My father. He’s been my biggest influence. He doesn’t have all the answers, but he’s never steered me wrong, and he’s always stood up for me.
Any nicknames?In high school my computer teacher called me “The Dude” one day, and it stuck. It was because sometimes I’d show up to school in my pajamas. It comes from the movie “The Big Lebowski.”
Senior Airman Robert MaughanAge: 22
Title: Aerospace maintenance journeyman
Day job: Deployed to the Middle East from the 374th Maintenance Group, Yokota Air Base, Japan
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