SSgt (Ret.) Johnnie O. Yellock, II, USAF
Staff Sergeant retired Johnnie O. Yellock II comes from a dual veteran family, was born in The Netherlands, and raised in Texas. In 2002, he graduated from Keller High School. Johnnie received his degree in Manufacturing Engineering from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX in 2006.
Johnnie enlisted into the Air Force Special Operations Command as a Combat Controller on April 17, 2007, and completed the Combat Control pipeline in June 2009. He was a certified air traffic controller, trained static line and free fall jumper, and a U.S. Army qualified combat scuba diver. His first assignment was to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron (STS) Hurlburt Field, FL.
Johnnie served his first deployment as an STS Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) supporting Combat Search and Rescue operations in Afghanistan. Two of his best friends, Senior Airman Mark Forester and Senior Airman Danny Sanchez, were killed in action thirteen days apart from one another shortly before Johnnie returned home. He then deployed in June 2011 as a JTAC in support of United States Special Operations Command Special Forces tasked with Village Stability Operations. Combat controllers are responsible for keeping situational awareness while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, fire support, command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance in the joint arena.
On July 6, while operating in Eastern Afghanistan, an Improvised Explosive Device detonated beneath and disabled his vehicle causing life-threatening injuries to both of his legs. Johnnie applied tourniquets to his own legs and continued to assist his team by providing Helicopter landing zone guidance to medically evacuate (MEDEVAC) himself and his interpreter to a nearby Forward Operating Base. Johnnie spent the next three years in intensive rehabilitation at BAMC in San Antonio, where he has endured at least 30 limb-salvage surgeries.
Johnnie was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Action Medal. Johnnie medically retired from active duty on November 27, 2013. He champions the Mark Forester Foundation to honor his best friend who was killed in action in Afghanistan. He lives in Texas in his Helping A Hero specially adapted home.