Brothers carry on family legacy in aviation

Tech. Sgt. Joel Putnam, a 94th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, left, and his brother, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Putnam, a 94th Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, pose for a photo in front of a C-130H3 Hercules at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. Photo by Senior Airman Justin Clayvon

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. – Decades ago, a father took his two young sons to the aviation museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Although the father might have known it would be a great vacation for his family, he had no way of knowing the impact the trip would have on his sons’ future decision to join the Air Force.

“I remember that one of the airplanes we stopped at, our dad was like, 'look it’s a Hercules,'” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Putnam, a 94th Maintenance Squadron jet engine mechanic here. “We were like that’s really cool and they let us in and we climbed around in it. I just remember it being so big! And then, lo and behold, later I’m an engine guy that works on them. We’ve always been around aircraft and drawn to it.”

Jeremy’s older brother, Joel Putnam, is a 94th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. The Putnam brothers come from a family legacy of military aviators.

“Our dad was in the U.S. Army air cavalry and he worked on airplanes,” said Jeremy. “That was a big inspiration for both of us to work on airplanes. We come from a long line of military aviators. Our grandfather on our dad’s side was in the Air Force. On our mom’s side, our grandfather was a helicopter crew chief in the Marines and then Army.”

The brothers’ camaraderie growing up continued into their adult lives as they worked in the military. Joel and Jeremy deployed to Qatar and recently participated in Exercise Swift Response together. Exercise Swift Response is an annual U.S. Army Europe-led multinational exercise featuring high-readiness airborne forces from nine nations.

The brothers spoke about their unique experience of partnering with each other in real world scenarios of exercises and missions.

“We were doing some reconfigurations for the Swift Response exercise, changing from one layout in the cargo department to another,” said Joel. “We were setting up seats for the Army paratroopers to jump out, and I look up and Jeremy is there helping me—tag teaming.”

“Yeah, I didn’t have anything engine related, so I jumped on the airplane to help him set up for the configuration,” Jeremy added.

Joel highlighted that between the two brothers they can take care of a whole plane. “We can go on TDY together and he can do the engine work and I can do the crew chief stuff,” said Joel.

“We can run the plane, we can get it serviced up, gassed and go, or handle any major issues,” added Jeremy.

Joel spoke about completing inspections at Dobbins ARB. When a plane comes in and is jacked up, as Jeremy works on the motor, Joel will be over in the flaps.
Jeremy works as an Air Reserve technician full time at Dobbins ARB. Joel serves as a traditional reservist, frequently working on orders at Dobbins ARB.

The bond between the brothers carries into their civilian life as well. The airmen live as roommates and even produce electronic music and disc jockey together. But their favorite experience is working together in the military.

“Going out and doing real world missions together is really cool,” Jeremy said. “When we grew up playing in the backyard together trying to accomplish something, or helping dad work on the cars, it was together, and now being on a much bigger scale, in a bigger family in the Air Force, still being and working together towards the mission is awesome.”