From special ops to special hobby: master sergeant works, wheels

  • Published
  • By Amn Leah Ferrante
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
A 20-year master sergeant with more than 25 deployments finds an unusual way to relieve stress and blow off steam: four-wheeling and rock crawling, a hobby that has recently landed him and his truck on the cover of one of the most popular four-wheeling magazines in the country.

Master Sgt. James (last name withheld*), the acting first sergeant for the 29th Attack Squadron and MQ-9 Reaper sensor operator by trade, has a background as a helicopter gunner in special operations for almost 18 years, and says rock crawling is an adrenaline rush.

"It's the rush I don't get anymore," Jim said with a smile as he described both his new hobby and his former career field.

This is not a new passion for the understatedly "busy" husband and father of 3- and 7-year-old girls, who now regularly help daddy in the garage.

"I was 6 or 7 when I started riding quads and dirt bikes, and then ended up going to school for welding," said Jim, who now also enjoys camping and riding with his family.

His 4-Runner isn't the first truck hes got his hands on. Over the years, he has built and modified 15 vehicles, never worrying about the outside appearance but focusing on the function - which basically means it needs to be able to take a beating.

"Nothing serious, [but] I've flopped a couple times," said Jim.

Now that he's at Holloman AFB, Jim takes advantage of not only the auto hobby shop on base, where he does all of the maintenance, but also the beautiful southwest terrain.

"Las Cruces has some of the best wheeling in the country; people come out from all over," he said. "It's a great community, and it's becoming a big industry."

Jim wants to get more Airmen involved even if they don't have vehicles of their own. There's always room for people to join those who are already wheeling.

"It's a great way to meet people with similar interests," he said.

Anyone who is interested in participating can visit "HollomanCrawlers" on Facebook.

*Editor's note: The last names of personnel connected to the Remotely Piloted Aircraft mission are omitted due to operational security constraints.