Johnston: Wind farm work offers camaraderie

Robert Smith

Jonathan Johnston is the first person in his family to serve in the military, and he said Monday — Veterans Day 2019 — that the focus of his attention was on those still serving the nation, especially those deployed around the world in defense of U.S. interests.

Johnston, 33, is a Tulsa native who served about a decade in the military, some five years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force and five more in the Oklahoma Air National Guard. He was a jet engine mechanic and was not deployed abroad, but said he has friends who joined the military and were deployed, and he remains thankful for what they have sacrificed to serve the nation.

As a jet engine mechanic, Johnston worked to help maintain B-2 bombers during his active duty days. As an Air National Guard member, he worked on F-16s.

Johnston is now an assistant site supervisor at the wind farm that Enel Green Power operates west of Pawhuska. He started with the company as a technician, climbing up on wind turbines to perform maintenance and troubleshoot, and moved up. He had been an assistant manager for a Quik Trip convenience store and fuel station before joining Enel.

Calling the choice to go to work at the wind farm, “the best decision I ever made,” in addition to the decision to enlist in the military, Johnston said his experience has been that working in a wind farm environment has offered him a sense of camaraderie that it can be hard to find after leaving the military.

“A lot of veterans I have talked to have trouble finding that (camaraderie) when they leave the military,” Johnston said. He described what he found while working for Enel as a combination of “the people, the community, all of these things combined.”

Johnston also said his experience has been that wind farm workers strive for a high level of service and integrity in their work, and he characterized the wind farm business as a particularly veteran-friendly occupation.

“Nothing can really 100 percent prepare you for climbing and working on a wind turbine,” he said. “We try our hardest to have integrity in all our actions.”

Johnston and his wife have four children and live in Bartlesville.