Pilots -- part of a bigger family

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Jasmine Jacobs
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Some families you are born into, and some you gain along the way.

The Air Force provides an extended family to those away from home and this is what influenced the Sharpy family to pursue careers as pilots.

Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Sharpy, a regular visitor to Vance Air Force Base, is the deputy chief of staff for Capability Development, Headquarters Allied Command Transformation, Norfolk, Virginia, and is a mobility pilot by trade.

However, that isn’t his only job. He is also the father of two sons who are pursuing careers as Air Force pilots.

Both 1st Lt. Dylan Sharpy, Class 19-10, and 2nd Lt. Matt Sharpy, Class 19-25, attended and graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance and will continue their careers as C-17 pilots.

General Sharpy was the guest speaker at both sons’ graduation ceremonies.

When Dylan and Matt started considering an Air Force career, they both said a few words that remained with General Sharpy.

They both said they wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves and they wanted to be like the people they grew up around, said General Sharpy. “It wasn’t necessarily us, but the Airmen that we saw every day and to me, that was an awesome testament to the quality, character and the core values of those in our community.”

“You see the community aspect of it and it inspires you to want to be a part of that same community,” said Matt.

For Dylan and Matt both, it was their experience growing up that heavily influenced them to join the Air Force. From going to school on base to hanging out in the units at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, while their father served as a squadron commander, all played a role in their decision to follow a path that only a few travel.

“You want to do what the positive role models in your life do,” said Dylan.

For General Sharpy, his path to the Air Force was not much different. His influence also stemmed from those around him.

“I wasn’t exposed to it [the military] until my junior year of high school when, after taking the ACT, my guidance counselor said this may be a good fit,” said General Sharpy. “I then met a friend’s dad who was a Naval Academy graduate and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. He is the one that taught me about the opportunities that the academies provided to him and his son.”

For General Sharpy, Dylan and Matt alike, joining the military was about being a part of a bigger picture, serving a cause that is worthy of the effort and being a person that people can count on.

When General Sharpy reflects on his sons’ accomplishments, he is reminded of his goal to be a parent first and support his sons’ careers. “I’m a proud parent, a proud father,” he said.