As a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force, Lt. Col. Timothy Pearson, 40, is currently the commander of the 332ndÂ Expeditionary Communications Squadron at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, a position he has held since June. In addition, he has also commanded the 56th Communications Squadron, Luke AFB, Ariz.
"Being a commander is an amazing experience in any location, but being responsible for leading airmen in a deployed environment is something I could only have dreamed of when I joined the military," Pearson said.
As the commander of the squadron, Pearson is charged with leading a team of 25 joint military, civilian, and contractors who work to ensure effective implementation and integration of technology in aviation assets. During his year-long mission, Pearson is responsible for 92 airmen and 42 contractors who provide all the squad's communications support, as well as for other units.
"I oversee the computer networks, radio networks and devices, telephone systems and all the communications infrastructure on the base that supports air operations in Iraq," Pearson explained. "I am also responsible for all maintenance of airfield systems to include the radars and Instrument Landing Systems supporting an active runway."
Tim is the son of David and Margie Pearson of St. Marys. He married his wife Bonnie, of Venus, Pa., on May 28, 1994. Together the couple have two daughters: Katie, soon to be 16, and and Ellie, 14. Both will attend Elk County Catholic High School in the fall, following in their father's footsteps, as he graduated from ECCHS in 1989.
While at ECC, Pearson was awarded an ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) scholarship to attend college at The Pennsylvania State University. Although Pearson is currently deployed, his family resides in St. Marys.
"I originally joined the ROTC to be a pilot, but destiny kept me in the computer and communications arena and it has been a perfect fit for me. I love to apply my communications technical skills to the Air Force mission," Pearson said. "I eventually got my private pilot's license and obtained my original personal goal to fly."
He went on to obtain a bachelor of science degree in computer engineering from Penn State in 1993 and a master of science degree in computing and information systems from the Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville in 1998.
Additional training Pearson has completed in professional military education courses includes: 2000 - Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.; 2005 - Air Command and Staff College, by correspondence; 2007 - Army Command General and Staff College, Ft Leavenworth Kan.; 2010 - Air War College, by correspondence; and 2010 - Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
In the past, Pearson has deployed in direct support of Operations Joint Forge, Joint Guardian, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. His many deployments have ranged from durations of 30 days to one year.
In the 17 years Pearson has been in the Air Force, he has been assigned to bases in Illinois, Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia, Colorado, Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina.
"I have also been able to travel to Italy, England, and Germany, as well as to many other countries in Southwest Asia, Bosnia and Kosovo for my job," Pearson said. "The experiences I have had at each location and the people I have met over my career have shaped my view of the world and life."
Pearson said he has been very fortunate to have experienced many unique opportunities in his career. In 2003, he was one of the first airmen to arrive on a new base as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom when he was deployed for 4.5 months to a base in the Southwest Asia Theater, where he helped set up a coalition air base to conduct air operations against Iraq.
"I had the unique opportunity to see the complete cycle of an operational deployment from a bare base build-up, through combat operations and sustainment to a complete drawdown and base closure," Pearson said. "It was an amazing learning experience."
Throughout his Air Force career, Pearson has received a wide array of military awards and decorations.
According to Pearson, his competitive nature and a love for what he does have worked in his favor while being enlisted in the Air Force.
"I truly enjoy using my technical and leadership skills to lead people in the Air Force. I am driven to make a difference and enjoy working with other airmen that are driven to â€śFly, Fight, and Win,â€ť our AF mission," Pearson explained. "I am also very competitive and detail-oriented, which has helped my drive to excel.Â I look at every situation as an opportunity to exceed and enjoy the challenges that military life presents."
As with many military families, Pearson and his wife strive to obtain a sense of normalcy for their daughters by providing them with a solid home, despite their many moves.
"Since we had no place we could really call home that would last more than a few years, we focused hard on grounding our girls in PA with our families. We come home whenever we can and worked hard to link our girls to where we grew up in PA," he said.
"My biggest accomplishment is that I have been able to accomplish my AF career with my best friend, Bonnie," Pearson added.
The couple were married in May 1994, with Pearson entering active duty only two months later.
"This amazing journey has been our journey, and it is awesome that I have been able to share it with one person. I could not have made it through without her support," he said.
Pearson added that he enjoyed growing up in St. Marys and looks forward to one day returning home.
"I think it has given me strong character traits, a hard-working ethic and a love for America, all of which have helped me in my military career. As an airman, our core values are 'Integrity First,' 'Service before Self' and 'Excellence in All You Do.'Â My parents instilled strong family values and an instinct to do the right thing," Pearson said.
He said his education at ECC instilled important spiritual values, a competitive nature to excel and gave him lasting friends with whom he remains in contact.
Throughout his youth, Pearson was an altar boy at St. Mary's Parish, trained at Kriegisch Martial Arts and worked for E&G Auto Parts, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's St. Marys office and Pennsylvania Heat Treaters. He also participated twice in the Elk County Catholic versus St. Marys Area alumni football game.
"All these things have provided me the skills to overcome the challenges I have faced in my life," he said. "I truly enjoyed my childhood growing up in a small American town and feel honored that I can do my part to defend our freedom and protect my childrenâ€™s and someday grandchildrenâ€™s way of life."
Eventually, Pearson plans to retire from the military and return home, where he foresees working full-time on his small computer business, Professional Computing Solutions, Inc., which he started in 1998 with two of his Air Force comrades.
Outside of the military, Pearson and his wife enjoy watching their daughters participate in sports and other activities. He also enjoys riding his 1983 Honda Magna V65 motorcycle.
"My wife and I enjoy spending time at home and making each new house we live in our 'castle.' The home I recently bought in St. Marys will be a special project, as it is the first step in our journey home," Pearson said. "I also enjoyed flying when I got my private pilotâ€™s license and plan to start flying again with my daughter, Ellie, who wants to earn her pilot's license."