Randy Wirkkala

Randy Wirkkala has a passport that would be the envy of most jet setters.  Having grown up in Chinook, Washington, a tiny logging and fishing community on the West Coast, he never dreamed he would see so much of the world.  At the time, all he knew was that he had to leave home to make his mark on it.

Wirkkala’s travels began in a recruiter’s office at the age of nineteen.  After signing on with the Air Force, he trained as a Hydraulic Technician and was immediately shipped to Aviano, Italy.  There he worked on two squadrons of F-16 Fighters in support of the U.S. mission in Bosnia.  Over the three-and-a-half years that he was stationed in Italy, Wirkkala was able to travel throughout Europe.  “I covered everything west of the former Yugoslavia as well as the UK,” he states.

From Italy, Wirkkala was sent to Andrew’s Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. In addition to maintaining the Boeing 757 and Gulfstream Presidential aircraft, he also met his future wife.  In 2000, the couple returned to Washington State to get married and decided to slowly make their way back west.

Travis Air Force Base in California turned out to be the first stop in support of their plan.  To get there, Wirkkala and his bride put their possessions in a U-Haul truck and crossed the nation, logging yet another 3000 miles in the process.  Once in California, he was assigned to the C-5 Squadron – the largest cargo plane in the U.S. fleet.  He also found himself heading to Kuwait, to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.  After four-and-a half months in the desert, he returned to California only to get orders to Iraq.  But, as luck would have it, his military contract was up and he was honorably discharged.  At that point, he had served in the military for almost ten years.

In order to work on civilian aircraft, Wirkkala had to get his Airframe and Power Plant license upon leaving active duty.  He spent a summer doing contract jobs in the Bay Area before landing a job at Cessna Citation in Sacramento, where he would be employed for eight years.  He also volunteered on several mission trips to the Philippines and to India.

Wirkkala decided to sign up for the Reserves when his first daughter was born in 2009.  Assigned to his old unit’s sister squadron, he found himself working on C-5’s once again.  The déjà vu continued when he was activated and sent to Spain and Germany.  Once his second daughter was born in 2010, he realized it was time to settle down closer to home.

In 2012, the family decided to move to Portland, Oregon, their ultimate destination.  His Reserve duty was transferred to McChord Air Force Base in Washington, where he is currently working on C-17’s.  Within three months of arrival, Wirkkala landed his job in the Maintenance Department at Global Aviation.  Shortly thereafter, he and his wife also welcomed a third child – a boy.  Putting down roots has been easy.  In fact, he recently discovered that his passport has expired.

 

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