Interview with Chief Master Sergeant Carvelle Jones of the US Air Force

Interview with Chief Master Sergeant Carvelle Jones of the US Air Force

Rachel Yuan '26

Chief Master Sergeant Carvelle Jones of the Air Force has served in the military for around 24.5 years. He enlisted right out of high school and retired earlier this year, at the highest enlisted rank possible. He served in places all around the world and participated in many armed conflicts. I felt extremely lucky to get the opportunity to interview him in February. He is now working at Georgia Tech Research Institute as a senior research engineer.


(Note: This interview has been lightly edited for the purposes of clarification)


Ziran (Rachel) Yuan (Reporter for the Ridge Devil’s Advocate): Starting off broad. How and why did you join the airforce?

CMSgt Carvelle Jones: I went to high school in a small town in Alabama. From there, I graduated in 1998 and I joined the air force right out of high school. I was really looking for an opportunity to do something different, to expand on my interest in electronics and airplanes. And so I decided that the air force was probably the better option. If I went to college, I probably wouldn’t have ended up well. I wasn’t mature enough so I needed something a little bit stricter. The air force was exactly what I needed to do. In addition, one of my really good friends was Norris Robbins. He lived around a corner from me. We played basketball together as kids all the time, and he joined the air force in 1996. When he came home, we talked about it. And then another good friend of mine joined the navy. I’m not a big water guy so I thought I would rather deal with airplanes and join the air force.

ZY: What was your training like?

CMSgt Jones: My training was really cool. My initial training was in Biloxi in Mississippi. I learned electronics principles, general electronics from wiring diagrams, schematics, and learning how resistors work, things of that nature. And then I went to what’s called my core classes, which is the electronic warfare system. That’s my primary job. I learned how aircraft can take in radar signals, analyze them and then spit them back out. So, it was really fun. I enjoyed it. I learned a lot and kind of prepared me to be where I’m at today.

ZY: Can you share any leadership experiences you had in the air force?

CMSgt Jones: We had a couple of airmen who had his wife stationed in a different location due to a family situation. He had been away from his family for the last 2 years without telling anybody. Once we found out about it, my commander and I actually reached out to the appropriate authorities and got him moved to be with his family at the closest base possible. We also had another situation where a young man was in the same boat. His mother had just got diagnosed with cancer. We were able to get him back home so he can be with his mother during that tough time in his life. Those are the things I really enjoyed: helping airmen. My philosophy is that if you show people that you care about them, all the other things will fall into place.

ZY: How did you handle the stress and challenges of being in the military?

CMSgt Jones: I’m a happy kind of go lucky person. I like to have fun and crack jokes and giggle and I’m always the goofy kid. I just keep that positive attitude and realize that sometimes things do suck. You get situations where people are not cooperating, your leadership team is not working right, or your teammates are not doing what they need to do. Keeping a positive attitude was the most important thing. Back in the day when I was young, I used to play a lot of basketball. That was my favorite thing to do. Doing something athletic, working out, lifting weights, running, or playing basketball, all kind of helped me deal with the stresses at a younger age.

ZY: Why did you decide to stay in the air force? Many people serve for a while and then leave.

CMSgt Jones: I enjoyed the camaraderie, I enjoyed the mission. I enjoyed the people. I enjoyed having a steady paycheck, right? That’s always a good thing.

 Once I met my wife and got married, it just fit our family dynamic. My wife was in the air force and she did about 6 years in the air force. So we’re an air force family. We just roll with it. We just continue. I thought I was going to retire a while back before I was made chief. It didn’t quite work. I stuck it out for four more years and then I retired.

ZY: How would you describe the atmosphere in the air force?

CMSgt Jones: It’s stressful, competitive, fun. All those things go along with that. Also, it can be tough, right? Sometimes we lose airmen. It follows a full gamut of emotions. It’s what ties us all together. We laugh together, we cry together, we fight, we do all those things as a family.