Airman Returns to Wisconsin with the Thunderbirds

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Kuntze
  • 128th Air Refueling Wing
The military can offer a number of surprises during a single career. Deployments, base assignments, and promotions are common occurrences throughout today's military, but sometimes the unexpected can be just as exciting.

On a 92-degree August day in Milwaukee at the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Air Force Staff Sgt. Jazz Sutto, 22, an aircraft metals technician, found his surprise.

Staff Sgt. Sutto has been assigned to the Air Force Thunderbirds air demonstration
team for four months, and, during his first air show with the prestigious aircraft and crew, he has returned to his home state.

Sutto grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and he enlisted in the Air Force via the Milwaukee MEPS in 2006, said Thunderbird 1, Lt. Col. Case Cunningham, commander / leader of the Thunderbirds air demonstration team. Cunningham spoke during an award ceremony held for Sutto.

FARKLE ceremonies, or Family and Relatives, Kinfolk, Loved-ones, and Everyone else, are the Thunderbirds' way of showing their support for fellow team members when an air show takes place in that member's home state. Sutto's FARKLE ceremony was attended by the Thunderbirds' pilots, his family, and his fiancé.

Staff Sgt. Sutto's first duty station was to Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom, where he worked on KC-135R Stratotanker, C-130 Hercules, and RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft, Cunningham said. During his time overseas, Sutto was selected as the Airman of the Year, became his squadron's physical training leader, and continued his college education while maintaining a 4.0 GPA, said Cunningham.

Following a deployment to Qatar, Sutto was selected to join the Thunderbirds at Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada, Cunningham said.

"Jazz is the first aircraft metals technician on the Air Force Thunderbirds team," he said. "And he has made an incredible impact on the team."

Sutto assisted the Thunderbirds from Nellis during the team's recent six-week tour of Europe when he repaired and rebuilt the ladders that allow pilots to climb down from the cockpits of their aircraft, Cunningham said. Moreover, Sutto's standards of physical fitness have earned him the role of physical training leader for the entire Thunderbirds crew.

Speaking of his arrival to Nellis AFB, Sutto said, "I got a little homesick when I got off the plane in Vegas. It's a, you know, desert, and it's hot."

But Sutto is happy to be back in Wisconsin for the Milwaukee Air and Water Show.

"I love being back here," he said. "I'm incredibly honored to be a part of the team."

For Staff Sgt. Sutto, the best part of being with the Thunderbirds is, "being with people who will never say 'that isn't my job.' Everyone helps each other out."

Being a part of the Thunderbirds team is also a stepping stone for Sutto.

"I look forward to leaving here a better airman than I came," Sutto said. "This teaches you so much about being sharp and [being professional]."

When asked about his thoughts on being back in Wisconsin for the two-day air show, Sutto said, "I'm glad to be back in the homeland."