Veteran Scott Mixon was born and raised in Okeechobee.
During his junior year at Okeechobee High School, Mixon joined the delayed enlistment program. “I knew I wanted to serve in the Air Force and dedicated everything to that dream. If it wasn’t for my mother though, I would have ended up in the Army.”
Mixon said he was mislead by an Army recruiter who told him he did not score the score he needed to do what he wanted to do in the Air Force. Because of this, Mixon had given all his paperwork to the Army recruiter thinking that was his only option. The Air Force recruiter called Mixon’s mother and told her they needed to get Mixon’s documents back from the Army recruiter. Mixon and his mother went to the Army recruiter to ask for his documents, but the recruiter was not in the office at the time, and they were told to sit down at his desk and wait.
“If it wasn’t for my mom, I don’t know what would have happened,” he said. “She said a prayer, and we sat down. We looked over, and there on top of his desk were all my documents, birth certificate, social security card, everything I needed. She gathered them up, looked at me and said, ‘We’re good. Come on.’ Then we walked out.” The recruiter who had told them to sit at the desk and wait asked where they were going, and Mixon’s mom said, "We’re leaving."
"And we walked next door to the Air Force recruiter, sat down, and that was that," he recalled.
“If it weren’t for the strength of my mom, I would not have ended up on this path to working on rockets.”
Mixon had basic training in San Antonio followed by technical training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, where he learned aircraft maintenance. The actual job title was crew chief. “Being a crew chief, you have to know a little of everyone’s specialty in addition to your own. After graduating from technical training, you are sent to your duty station where you continue your training until you become a journeyman. Your training never really ends,” he explained, "but that’s when you are considered a crew chief.”
After leaving Sheppard, he was sent to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. “I joined the Air Force to see the world and got sent back to Tampa!” His original assignment was Montana, but midway through tech school he was notified his assignment had been changed. They were relocating the unit from Montana to Tampa. “I called my mom and said I got good news and bad news.” She asked him what his news was, and he replied, “My bad news is my assignment got canceled. The good news is, I’m going to Tampa, Fla.” She was ecstatic about it, he said.
Coming from small town Okeechobee, Tampa was Mixon’s first big-city experience. He worked on KC135 air-refueling tankers and became a flying crew chief. As a flying crew chief, he was assigned to an aircraft and went with the aircraft wherever it went. “We would go wherever. It could be a two-week trip to Italy, or it could be five-month trip to Saudi Arabia,” he said. Unless they were heading to an undisclosed location, he always knew ahead of time where he was going. Although, he did not usually know how long he would be there.
When rotated stateside, he spent his time working on aircraft here, supporting stateside operations — training for the pilots, ferrying aircraft where they are needed,
“On the anniversary of 911, we were alerted late at night. We were getting ready to taxi out, and the co-pilot’s window wouldn’t close. I had to close it — take it apart and fix it. You have minutes to be airborne, so I ended up sitting in the co-pilot’s seat while he sat in the instructor pilot’s seat. We took off and circled around New York City for several hours. I don’t know if it was showing a presence or if there was a legit reason we needed to be up there, but we carried out our mission.”
He also never had to jump out of an airplane. “My job was to keep 'em in the air, so nobody had to,” he said. “To this day, I’ve never had the urge to skydive or anything like that.”
At one point, Mixon was assigned to an E-8C Joint STAR, a surveillance aircraft. It played a key role when the United States went into Iraq initially, he explained.
He got his master certification while he was in the Air Force and became a master aircraft maintenance instructor.
He spent the remainder of his career in Valdosta, Ga., tied to a combat search and rescue C-130 Unit, serving as a crew chief in a supervisory role. “We were the 23rd Wing Flying Tigers.”
Of his deployment locations, he said Sicily was the highlight.
Mixon highly recommends the Air Force to the younger generations. “You get out of the Air Force what you put into it. It’s just a matter of drive and want. It definitely made me a better person.”