Page 18-19 - Spring 2013

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When Colonel John K. Faircloth, Jr. graduated from
Troy University in 1988 with a degree in mathematics,
he might not have known that he would use those
skills to assist the most important man in the world.
“Whenever you see that shiny green and white
VH-3 ‘Sea King’ helicopter on the South Lawn of theWhite
House, chances are I’mflying it,” said the commander of
Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1).
Col. Faircloth said flying piqued his interest early
on when he would spend time with his grandfather.
“I fell in love with flying when I was in junior high
school,” he said. “My grandparents were from
Ashford, and my granddaddy was a farmer down
there, so I got my first experience riding with the local
crop-duster.”
Col. Faircloth, a native of Grady, was familiar
with TROY early on in his life also. “Mom and dad
are both TROY graduates,” he said. “Dad was an
honorable mention All-America lineman at Troy State
College, and I was fortunate enough to be on the
football team for three years. My sister is a graduate
of TROY, too.”
After graduating, Col. Faircloth went to Officer
Candidate School where he was commissioned as
a second lieutenant in the United States Marine
Corps in December of 1989. After completing
“The Basic School” during 1990, he went to flight
school in Pensacola. He received his Naval
Aviator wings in June of 1991.
He moved to Los Angeles, and then to Hawaii
for four and a half years. “I attained all possible
tactical flight and flight leadership designations
available during that tour,” Faircloth said. “In
January 1997, I reported to HMX-1 working various
jobs, as well as flying President Clinton, and I
finished my tour there as a Presidential Command Pilot.”
After serving in various positions and roles including
commanding HMH-462, a CH-53E helicopter squadron in San
Diego and deploying three times to Afghanistan and Iraq, it was
time for Col. Faircloth to come back home.
“In 2009 I was selected for promotion to colonel and in June
2009 my family and I moved to Prattville where I attended the
United States Air Force’s Air War College,” he said. “I checked
into HMX-1 in 2010, and took command in June 2011.” Col.
Faircloth gives up command of HMX-1 in June.
He said that the average tour is four years at HMX-1 and the
average Marine spends about six months a year on the road in
support of the president. The tempo is high; with significant
amounts of time spent away from the family, but the honor that
comes along with a post like that is nothing short of amazing.
“In the six
and one half
years I’ve spent
at HMX-1 over
two tours, I’ve been
fortunate enough to
travel to probably 25
countries.”
“HMX-1 has been
a series of once in a
lifetime opportunities,”
he said. “We have recently
completed the second
busiest election year in
history, and one of my
proudest moments and a
highlight of this tour was
leading the Marine One flight
during the G8 summit at Camp
David during May 2012 followed
immediately by the NATO summit in Chicago the next
day. I work with a great team whose sacrifices in combat
and in our mission continue. Without those Marines and
sailors we wouldn’t be able to succeed in our mission.”
Col. Faircloth credits Troy University as the foundation
that allowed him to grow. As a member of the TROY
football team for three years including being part of the
1987 national championship team, he learned some other
things – discipline and toughness.
“Playing football at TROY was the fulfillment of a
lifelong dream and also ensured that I remained physical
and in shape for officer candidate school; it prepared me
for the physical toughness and mental demands that are
required to be a Marine.”
Marine One
Alumnus credits TROY with preparing him
for duty of flying presidents
However, the preparation he received was not limited to
the football field.
“I was part of the math department and Mr. Jim
O’Neal, the math department head during my time at
TROY, took a personal interest in me to help me succeed,
to help me progress through the math program so I could
get the technical degree required to enable me to achieve
my goals.”
Even though he’s about to celebrate a quarter century
in the Marine Corps, Col. Faircloth remembers the
qualities that made TROY the school for him.
“As I grew from a teenager into my early 20s, the
leadership and the lessons about dedication I learned
from my parents, the TROY coaching staff and faculty
were important,” Col. Faircloth said. “It was obvious the
interest they took in me.”
Col Faircloth has been married to his wife Beverly for
24 years and they have three children, Joanna, 22, Audrey,
19, and Chip, 12.
By Anthony Watson
TROY Magazine
TROY Magazine
Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
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