After the recent news regarding the fall of Afghanistan, I thought it would be interesting to hear from an Air Force veteran who served in that Middle Eastern war zone about a decade ago.
Coming from a dual veteran family, Johnnie O. Yellock II, raised in Texas and a resident of Lantana, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2007 after completing his undergraduate degree in Manufacturing Engineering from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX. Johnnie was a USAF Special Operations Combat Controller, certified air traffic controller, static-line and free fall jumper, as well as a U.S. Army qualified combat scuba diver, and would serve two combat tours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
On July 6, 2011, on Johnnie’s second deployment to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, an improvised explosive device (IED) struck his vehicle, injuring both of his legs. Johnnie received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Action Medal for his actions that day. He spent the next three years in rehabilitation and has endured 32 limb-salvage surgeries to-date, allowing him to keep both of his legs. Ultimately, his ankles were fused in place and he’ll wear adaptive leg braces for the rest of his life. Johnnie’s new mission was recovery in every sense of the word and with the support of friends and family, began to put himself back together physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, and emotionally.
Johnnie played golf throughout his recovery process and was invited to compete in the 2013 and 2015 George W. Bush Warrior Opens. He would describe that as “a life changing opportunity for fellowship with other service members in the company of our President.” He was medically retired as a Staff Sergeant from active duty on November 27, 2013.
Johnnie serves veterans, fellow wounded service members and Gold Star families through various non-profits. One of them is Boots for Warriors, www.bootsforwarriors.org a 501-C3, that provides hand crafted, custom “Thank You’s” in the form of Cowboy Boots for our Nation’s wounded war fighters. He graduated with a Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University in 2019, with the networking assistance and financial support of Sentinels of Freedom (SOF), www.sentinelsoffreedom.org a 501-C3 supporting severely injured veterans since 9/11.
Johnnie travels the nation public speaking and encouraging other veterans to share their stories and experience as often as possible. He recently began working as a Mortgage Loan Originator for GoPrime Mortgage where he’s passionate about continuing to serve his community.