Pride Month Highlight: Tech. Sgt. John Testa, third-generation Airman

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steven Tucker
  • 103rd Airlift Wing

In February 2009, John Testa became a third-generation Airman when he joined the Connecticut Air National Guard.

“I was in [the University of Connecticut pre-pharmacy program], and tuition at the time was expensive,” said Testa. “My father was Security Forces in the Air Force Reserve and mentioned that the Air Guard might be able to help out, and it would be a great opportunity to gain a lot of skills. My grandfather also served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.”

Testa joined the Guard as an administration specialist in the 103rd Maintenance Group. The skills he gained in training inspired a new career path.

“I switched from pre-pharmacy to business and then graduated from Southern Connecticut State University around my sixth year in the Guard,” said Testa. “I think the team management skills I gained in the Guard definitely helped in my civilian career—now I work at a solar energy and energy efficiency company managing a team of eight.”

Soon after Testa began his career, the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 was signed into law, allowing gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to serve openly in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“I think it was a good experience going into the military then because you could be your true self,” said Testa.

A diverse force joining together for a common cause gives an added measure of strength for the U.S. military, said Testa.

“As long as we can complete the mission all together, that’s the thing that counts,” said Testa. “Being yourself and building diversity will make us more powerful. In the end, we’re all working together to get the mission done regardless of who it is.”

Testa highlighted his leadership as an example of individuals that have fostered an inclusive environment for its diverse force that contributes to the mission.

“I got married in 2018 to my husband and we’re expecting a child in July,” said Testa. “Everyone is supportive from my supervisor, Tech. Sgt. Dylan Platt, to [103rd Maintenance Group commander] Col. Thomas Olander, so I think you can just be more open, and it builds an environment for everyone to better work together.”

This environment was key to getting through the challenges associated with multiple mission conversions during the course of Testa’s career, he said.

“When I joined, the A-10s had recently departed and we had the C-21 mission,” said Testa. Going through inspections with my supervisors, we got outstanding unit awards and built the group stronger. And then it was a great experience to see the C-130s come in [beginning in 2013] after all of our hard work, and now seeing the newer [C-130H3 aircraft] arrive. Seeing that process from losing a mission to now being one of the best airlift wings in the Guard has been incredible.”

Creating an inclusive environment benefits the entire force when faced with stressors unique to military service, said Testa.

“No matter who is by your side, we all have each other’s backs,” said Testa. “We’re supporting each other through hardships and tough times.”

With 12 years of service, Testa is keeping these ideas close to him as he continues to advance as a leader in the Guard.

“I’ve done my professional military education, so I’m on track to be a Master Sergeant,” said Testa. “That’s my next big step in the military.”
Testa continues to advocate for others who share a similar story.

“A lot of people maybe haven’t come out yet, so hopefully my story helps others live their true self, build a better career, and helps the force as a whole in accepting each other and being supportive,” said Testa. “If anyone ever needs help, definitely reach out to me and I’m more than happy to speak with them and help them out.”