GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Cornelius, assigned to the 319th Security Forces Squadron as a Base Defense Operations Center controller, is the embodiment of the warrior ethos that an Air Force career like security forces demands every day. However, working in a military occupation demands more than just being a warrior on the surface.
“Being in a profession of arms, a high level of discipline is required. You have to be 100 percent on all levels; spiritual, mental, physical. All those platforms come into play when it comes to keeping your discipline in order to perform,” said Cornelius.
That need to perform is what defines a first-responder job like security forces and how they have to treat every situation.
“There’s no alternative. If the job doesn’t get done then potentially people die. I take that pretty seriously and for me it’s easier to stay in check knowing that I’m responsible at any given moment for someone’s life. It has a bigger impact for me,” said Cornelius.
That impact stems from Cornelius’ upbringing with a large portion of his family having served in the military.
“Both of my grandfathers served, one in the Army and the other in the Air Force,” said Cornelius. “My great grandfather was in the Navy and survived Pearl Harbor, then continued to fight in the Pacific.”
The legacy of Cornelius’ family that served before him helped frame what it means to be in a profession of arms. It also helped instill the drive to embody a warrior ethos at an early age.
“As a teenager I did combat sports like jujitsu and MMA. I wrestled and played football, so athleticism kind of tied it in as well,” said Cornelius.
The life of a security forces Airman calls for some of the most rigorous job standards in the Air Force. The high-stakes situations that security forces personnel have to engage with at a moment’s notice and the overall pressure of the occupation requires each person to find a way to deal with the demands of the job.
“I like to strive under stress and it’s for sure high stress,” Cornelius said. “Overcoming it is more of just a mental fortitude thing so you have to just power through. At the end of the day, you have to have that resolve and get the job done.”