Alumni Update: Josiah Schwindt LCHS '17

Alumni Update: Josiah Schwindt LCHS '17
Posted on 10/24/2019
Josiah SchwindtIt’s pretty sublime watching a B-1 bomber melt snow off the runway as it takes off in a blizzard. LCHS 2017 alumnus Josiah Schwindt gives an exhilarating first-hand account of the phenomenon. It’s part of what he loves about his service in the U.S. Air Force.

When he enlisted, Schwindt’s high-flying vision of the wild blue yonder probably didn’t include the Black Hills, and Red Valley of South Dakota; but that’s where the B-1s are. Schwindt’s bearing soars when he describes his aircraft, and his job helping keep it aloft.

“It’s a super-fast, huge, low-flying, aircraft with a huge payload,” Schwindt said last week visiting his alma mater while on leave. “The wings move, and sweep back depending on the speed and maneuvers. It’s really fun watching one take off. It shoots a 150-foot flame out the back. In order to get off the ground, it has to go full throttle.”

With his A1C (Airman First Class) rank in hand, Schwindt lives on Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City. “All my work is on the ground, but a lot of the things I work on involve in-flight systems like air data, atmospheric-pressure impact, stuff like that. So the data that the computers in the jet process determine how fast it’s going, can it pull its maneuvers, and they communicate to the pilots – I work on that system.”

Did Liberty Common School prepare him well for his military career? “Yes! Very much so,” Schwindt answered rather emphatically. “In BMT (basic military training), there’s a lot of history content we’re required to know, and I already knew like ninety-percent of it from just going to school here. Basic physics, and electronic principles of aircraft was stuff (former LCHS physics instructor) Dr. Polhemus, and (LCHS science instructor) Mr. Vetter had taught me. It was super, super helpful.”

Test-taking skills are another decisive Liberty-borne edge, Schwindt said. “If the Air Force loves anything, it’s giving multiple-choice tests. If they could, they’d assign a multiple-choice test for every part of an airplane. They love testing their people, especially on history, and Air Force history. Thankfully, I knew a lot of that before I went in.”

“I have great reading-comprehension skills from Liberty. I didn’t know I had these skills when I went here, but now I appreciate it. It’s a big advantage,” Schwindt said. “All of it – grammar, literature, speaking clearly, knowing how to communicate. Lots of people in the military don’t have the skills I do. I have to take lots of tests to succeed in my job, and I’m prepared.”

“I can still hear Dr. Polhemus’s voice,” Schwindt joked. “Sometimes when I say something (on the job), I can hear his voice in my head telling me why I was wrong. It’s usually something about how the jet flies, and will relate to physics.”

“I hear (LCHS principal/math instructor) Mr. Lovely’s voice a lot, too, asking me ‘What are you doing kid?’ Elementary teachers all made a big total impact on me, but sometimes (former LCS 1st-grade, and kindergarten instructors) Mrs. Olsen, and Mrs. Shockley stand out. Wow, that was a long time ago.” Schwindt is a proud member of Liberty’s Legion of Thirteen.

“I think of (LCHS science instructor) Mrs. Karr a lot, and (LCHS music instructor) Mr. Lunn,” he continued waxing nostalgic. “There’s somewhat of a music scene in Rapid City, and sometimes I’ll go and watch, and then I always think ‘ah, Mr. Lunn is better than that saxophone player.’ He’s just a different breed, Mr. Lunn is.”

“The Air Force has its core values: Integrity first, service before self; and, excellence in all we do,” Schwindt explained. “In BMT, they teach you this; but, there were a lot of kids who didn’t really know the high meaning of integrity. So, I ended up teaching lots of them about this virtue, just like Liberty teaches it in elementary school. I knew some examples from literature, and all the lessons at Liberty.”

Schwindt arced sophic when asked what advice he might have for current students moiling their way through Liberty. “Stick with it. No matter where you are in life – and I’ve really come to understand this now – it always seems bad. Especially to younger kids, they don’t have that experience of what the future could be, or to appreciate the past. It always seems like either the past, or the future are better. It’s never satisfying where you are right now. No matter where you go, you’re going to experience something you’re not enjoying. So, if you don’t challenge yourself, and you don’t stick with it, you’re never going to succeed at all.”

Drawing upon his military experience, Schwindt leveled out, “No one wants to be a failure. So, sometimes people just give up, and say ‘oh, I’m done with this,’ and they persuade themselves they’re not failing when they really are. But the Air Force has taught me to stick with it – don’t quit no matter what. For me, it can sometimes get really rough, especially in South Dakota where it can get cold, and we’re trying to launch a jet with minus-40-degree weather, with 50mph winds, and I’ve got to change a metal part with my bare hands. It’s not fun, but the reward on the other side is amazing. Just stick with it. That’s my best advice. That’s all there is to anything really difficult in life. You’ve got to test your knowledge, your physical abilities, and your mental toughness every day.”

“Coming out on the other side of high school, I don’t think there’s much I would recommend changing about Liberty. The values the school holds are the best, whether you’re going into the Air Force, or working for a company,” he said in hindsight. “I think the school’s virtues stick with kids more than they care to admit.”

“I enjoy my job. It’s very intriguing, very satisfying,” Schwindt said. “There’s an awful lot of job satisfaction there.” Aim High ... Fly, Fight, Win!