Veteran and Lockheed Martin employee finds satisfaction and peace working on F-35 aircraft

By Stacey Doud

If you live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, then you probably know about Lockheed Martin and their role as a leading defense contractor for the government. What you may not know is that their reach is far and wide, from encouraging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students to stay on track, to their annual Armed Forces Bowl, which shows the deep respect that the company has for our country’s military and veterans.

The company’s major project has been the design and manufacture of the F-35 Lightning II.


Williams (Photo courtesy of Joe Williams)

Lockheed Martin is always proud to bring a veteran on as an employee, as long as he or she qualifies. Joe Williams, who served our country in the Navy for 20 years, is one of those people.

A native of Odessa, Williams said, “I’d always see planes on the horizon leaving Midland International Air and Space Port. I remember thinking how neat it would be to jump on one of those planes and leave the desert behind. So, I decided to pursue a life and vocation that would have me on planes and in a place where there was water and not desert.”

Williams enlisted at age 17 and served as an aircraft mechanic during his four tours: Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2002) and back to Afghanistan (2003), mainly working on the Lockheed P-3 Orion, which has been in existence for over 50 years and still flies today. The P-3 took the place of the P2V/SP2 Neptune as the newest (at the time) modern, land-based maritime patroller. During the Cold War years, this aircraft was tasked with finding and tracking Soviet ballistic missiles and attack submarines.


Lockheed P-3 Orion (Photo courtesy of Lockheed)

“I was a customer on the other end [in the Navy, not yet a Lockheed employee] while I was with P-3s. I learned the importance of what is needed, how it’s needed, and the quality that is required to operate at what we refer to as the “Tip of the Spear.” Now that I’m on the production end being with Lockheed Martin, I use that experience to ensure quality is passed on to those Sailors, Marines, and Airmen who are needing something in the field that provides the greatest, and most powerful, protection then what I ever got to use while I was on active duty. The F-35 is paving that way,” Williams said.

“I was discharged in July of 2016,” Williams said. “I had a hard time finding work, but then I discovered Texas Veterans Outdoors (TVO). Members of the organization helped shed some light onto my experience, and it eventually led to where I got an interview with Lockheed Martin. TVO has been amazing for my family and I.”

Williams has now been with Lockheed Martin for almost three years and serves as a Multi-Function Manufacturing Supervisor for the F-35.

“I plan and manage the application and finishing of low observable coatings, the installation and testing of avionics components, and the installation of major flight control surfaces and their actuating components,” Williams said.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Photo by Liz Lutz  Job Reference Number: FP18-02112 Siebert     
WMJ Reference Number: 18-02112     
Customer: F-35 Communications  
Country: Korea F-35    
Event: AW-1 First Flight Aerials  
Pilot: Alan Norman         

F-35 (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

In layman’s terms, he makes sure that the F-35’s coatings are effective when dealing with an enemy, that its electronics and computer components work reliably and he also supervises the installation of important flight electronics that pilots use, along with the equipment that those electronics control. He also oversees a large portion of the assembly line for the F-35.

“We could have only wished we had the F-35 before 9/11, but at least we now have tools to prevent something like that from happening again. The F-35 is 5th generation and is the most advanced fighter in the world,” he added.

Williams is very proud to be working for Lockheed, which he says is, “the number one defense contractor in the world.”

He finds his work “extremely satisfying,” mainly because of the advancement of the F-35, which has already saved lives and will continue to do so.

“So many people have died before us. Their sacrifice is what allows us to do what we do today,” Williams said.

To pay it forward, Williams seeks out opportunities to help other veterans as they transition to civilian life. He volunteers at TVO as a staff member, he’s a cabinet member of the Military/Veterans (Mil/Vet) employee resource group, and he’s on the AeroCARES board of directors.

“Organizations like TVO, Mil/Vet and AeroCARES can and do make a difference for veterans, and I say that confidently from experience. I’m so thankful to have the chance now to guide fellow veterans as they walk down the path I once did,” he said.

Happy Veteran’s Day to Joe and all of the men and women who have fought for our freedom! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!

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