Name: Brian Poncin

Service: United States Air Force active duty 1995-1999

Position: F-16 Crew Chief


  • Lackland AFB, Texas
  • Shepard AFB, Texas
  • Luke AFB, Arizona
  • Edwards AFB, California.

As an F-16 Crew Chief in the U.S. Air Force I was responsible for ensuring over all aircraft care. Duties included overseeing daily maintenance, identifying malfunctions and replacing parts, conducting inspections and maintaining aircraft records, aircraft launch and recovery operations, and general aircraft care.

Most of my four year enlistment was spent at Edwards AFB, California. Edwards is an experimental base and is home to the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. In addition to forming lasting relationships with some extraordinary people and performing a very interesting job a couple highlights of my service were as follows:  Since, Edwards is a test base it is home to every single aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory. I was fortunate to be able to see all these aircraft up close and personal. I saw everything from old Vietnam era F-4’s and the oldest B-52 in the inventory to the brand new state of the art B-2 and F-22. Such variety made Edwards a very interesting and exciting base to be stationed at. Another highlight to my service was when I was chosen to fly in the back seat of the F-16 that I crewed. This flight was awarded to me right before I finished my four year enlistment. It was a once in a lifetime experience and not something many people get to do. I was able to experience the speed of sound, nine G turns, and I was also allowed to take over the controls and fly the aircraft.

After being honorably discharged in 1999 I went on to use the G.I. Bill to earn my bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado. I’m proud of my service and it put me on the right track for the future.

I learned many skills in the Air Force that can be applied to my job as a technician here at Argonne National Laboratory. The military taught me how to work with others as a unit in order to accomplish tasks and taught me there is no “I” in team. I learned how to listen to other people’s ideas and implement, question and/or agree for the purpose of success. It also taught me to embrace the diversity found in a team, whether cultural, ethnic, religious, etc. Diversity is where new, out-of-the-box ideas can be found.  I also learned that when things don’t go as planned we need to adapt in order to overcome obstacles and find a way to get the job done. Finally, I learned helping others makes a big impact no matter where you are. If you take the opportunity to stop and think of others, it allows you to not only improve yourself but also those around you. It improves your mood and builds character. Maya Angelou once said “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”