AMMAN, JORDAN --
Being a cheerful person while being thousands of miles from home can be tough, but some people are born to be jolly.
1st Lt. Mike Jolly has been a C-130H3 pilot for the 700th Airlift Squadron for nearly a year now, and you’d be hard pressed to catch him without a grin on his face.
Jolly’s first test as a pilot came as a participant in Exercise Eager Lion in Jordan, which took place from Aug 25 to Sept 5, 2019.
“Mike demonstrated good judgment and a positive attitude throughout the exercise which made the flying enjoyable,” said Maj. R. Oscar Rondon, an aircraft commander as well as 94th Operations Support Squadron commander. “From the beginning, he remained eager to learn and ready for any challenge. Needless to say, Mike is an excellent co-pilot.”
A trip to any foreign country, especially one so far from home, can come with mixed emotions for a young pilot.
“This has been my first time out of the country with the 700th,” said Jolly. “I experienced a multitude of emotions, but it was mostly fun. It was very humbling and a great learning experience. I was fortunate enough to be with a very, very experienced crew. You think you know a lot, but you can always learn so much more. I’m definitely a better crew member and pilot since I started this trip.”
Achieving a period of growth was the goal of every Reserve Citizen Airman throughout the exercise. Training opportunities like these are a key component to being Reserve Ready.
“Although co-pilots are expected to be ready to perform their basic pilot duties, my expectations were simple: to be flexible and to ask questions,” said Rondon. “Operating in new airspace is always challenging and these concepts served him well to have fun and complete our daily flying missions while learning.”
There weren’t any tasks that he couldn’t handle, but Jolly did find it to be challenging to communicate with air traffic controllers overseas.
“I try empathizing with the controller who may only be able to speak 30 to 40 percent English,” said Jolly. “Experiencing a new culture and working with a multitude of different nationalities and allies has helped me out tremendously for future deployments.”
A strong eagerness to his personality and knack for learning also draws praise from other aircrew members.
“Lt. Jolly has really stepped up and shown that he wants to be here and wants to be a team player,” said Tech. Sgt. David Metroka, a 700th AS loadmaster. “He’s eager to learn and eager to do better. Some of the flights came with little tiny errors, but the aircraft commander was able to talk to him and guide him on how to improve. After he got the guidance, he really stepped up and showed that he could progress and do better.”