'605' gets an 'opportunity for autonomy'

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Zach Jacobs
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing
Few people who, after finishing careers involving teaching and uniformed service and spanning more than three decades, would be opposed to call themselves retired.
     But retirement isn't a word that Chief Master Sgt. Nathaniel McGuire said he would apply to his upcoming end of uniformed service on July 19, 2010.
     McGuire, a native of Baton Rouge, La., said he always had a fascination with airplanes and the military as a child. And participating in sports, he said, instilled in him a desire to be a part of a team and wear a uniform.
     McGuire made his way to the Sooner State by way of a basketball scholarship to Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, where he earned his teaching degree in 1974.
     Shortly thereafter, he began teaching in the Mid-Del School District, a career in public education that would continue for 31 years.
     But for his first few years of teaching, he was paired with another, veteran teacher - a member of the 72nd Aerial Port Squadron named Bill Carr - who told him about a way to fulfill that uniform-and-aircraft dream and still teach.
     "He knew how much of a longing I had to be on a team, so he talked to me about getting in the military," said McGuire. "It sounded like a good idea."
     And from there, it didn't take long for McGuire to come to realize his dream. He enlisted in the Air Force Reserve in May 1977, completing his technical training at Lackland Air Force Base and then returning to Tinker to serve as a cargo processor at the 72nd Aerial Port Squadron, the same unit as Bill Carr.
     As time went on, McGuire became an aircraft loader, the NCOIC in charge of ramp services and then that of cargo processing. He then became the squadron historian, career advisor and then the squadron's first sergeant, a position he held for nearly 15 years until June 2005. 
     That year, he retired from public education, having served as principal for a high school and two middle schools, and became an Air Reserve Technician in the 72nd.
     He became the squadron's superintendent in April 2008, the same month he was promoted to Chief Master Sergeant. 
     Looking back, McGuire noted a few facts about his career. First, save for basic training, technical training and the Air Force First Sergeant Academy, McGuire spent his entire career stationed at the 72nd.
     And he wouldn't have had it any other way.
     "I'm not a person that's been really big on change," said McGuire. "I love Tinker, love this area."
     "Tinker Air Force Base is my base."
     Also, his office, which is festooned with sports memorabilia, various military mementos, his two college degrees, and pictures of his family, is the same office he has worked in for 17 years. 
     Finally, he said takes pride in that, in 33 years, he has never missed or rescheduled a single UTA, chalking that fact up to good health, proper scheduling, and dedication.
     So why, after raising three children with his wife of 39 years and filling the roles of teacher, principal, squadron superintendent and Chief Master Sergeant, does Nathaniel McGuire say he's not retiring? 
     His answer is quite simple: he won't see himself as retired, but having more of, as he put it, an "opportunity for autonomy."
     McGuire said he looks forward to many of the typical things that retirees enjoy, like spending more time with family, fishing, and watching sports. But he said he'll have chances now to volunteer at the Veterans' Center in Norman and for the VA, as well as possibly work with the base Honor Guard.
     Come July 19, though he might not occupy that same office, and his uniform might be worn less often, he'll still be a husband, father and grandfather.
     And, to the many who have learned from or worked with him, he'll still be a teacher, principal, and a Chief.
     But one other title he said he's most proud of is that of being a "605." Before the Air Force made Air Force Specialty Codes alphanumeric, air transportation specialists were given that designator. 
     And with a tremendous sense of pride, Nathaniel McGuire said he'll be "a 605 until I die!"