Security and Logistics Director
(Joined Starlight Projects in 2012)
Born on July 23, 1968, Moh’d (abbreviation for Mohammed) is a Retired Lt. Colonel from the Royal Jordanian Air Force. He flew many humanitarian, U.N. Sanctioned, and joint Ally and U.S. Mission Task Forces including Bosnia, and the Second Iraq War. He is a man of Honor and Great Moral Integrity. A man of conviction that hopes that the sacrifices that he has had to make in his life will lead to a brighter and happier and safer future for his children, grandchildren, extended family, and now the world.
"At Starlight Projects Foundation we like to utilize and maximize any and all potential and/or expertise each individual has. We cannot all possibly do the same thing, and the same job. We are all different, and therefore we need to really hone in on how each individual can use what they already know, and grow from that within the agency, thereby maximizing their roles within the foundation." Says Krys Sakwanomtewa, Founder and Executive Director for the foundation.
A frank Q & A with our Security and Logistics director, that gives us a bit of insight into his humanity, beneath the tough platinum exterior of a career Military Man.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ‘CAPTAIN’ (AS WE CALL HIM AT STARLIGHT)
INTERVIEWER (I): So why flying? Why the Air Force? How did you come to that choice?
MOHD (M): “My grandmam always said that when I was a child, I used to dream about flying. A friend of mine used to always tell me stories of knowledge of flying and reading… but he did not become a pilot. I did. My father joined the air force and was a life long member 30 yrs, but never became a pilot.”
I: Do you remember the moment you signed up? Was there other choices for you?
M: “I finished high school and I did not want to join the air force I wanted to join MO’TAH UNIVERSITY (A Military Academy of high status like America’s West Point), because I used to watch videos and see them in person how they used to march together in synchronicity and they were UNITED most of all. I wanted to belong to something like that. Great, that I could be proud of. But when I told my dad, he said… “I want you to join the Air Force”, and so as a good son I listened to him.
September of 1985, there was a registration day, and at 17 years old, I attended and did my interview, tests, etc… I was accepted into a probationary period of review and vetting, until all was clear and I scored high enough to make the cut, and so on December 23rd, 1985, I officially became an Air Force Cadet.”
I: Was it hard to make the cut from the probationary status? Did Everyone Make it?
M: “ I was called the morning of December 23rd, 1985 and told to come into the Air Force to report. Out of 1000 candidates that applied, I was among only about 36 that were accepted to join into the pilot program. I Graduated at 20 years old with a star, which is an achievement at that time. It takes people a lot longer to get their star. If they were not dropped first. The program is very intense, and very hard. Every day if you are not at your best you can potentially get sent home. My training included a battery of science, math, aero-dynamics training, security risk assessment, emergency situation procedures, multiple language training, and a variety of other challenging curriculums. I graduated in 1988 as a Fighter Pilot, and I joined the Fighter Squadron, took courses for 23 days and transferred out to Transport Pilot.
I: Wow! You graduated as a Fighter Pilot, so why did you switch to Transport Pilot?
M: “The real reason is simple, and a bit funny. At that time, in the late 80’s I did not feel we would be fighting with anyone directly any time soon, so I would never see any real action. Plus, the base was out in the middle of nowhere, in the desert, and out of the city, and my philosophy as a young man was… that I was ‘like a fish… If I moved out of the city I would die.’ A funny after thought now, as an adult, knowing what I know, and how the choices we make as young people, affect us and our whole life’s path to come. As a Transport Pilot I was able to do much good, and I was one of the BEST. Without a doubt. I have traveled to over 37 countries, met a lot of interesting people, and let me tell you something, I am still alive to keep going, thanks to god. As a Fighter Pilot, I am almost positive I would have been dead a long time ago.
One of the main incentives of being a Transport Pilot was that the base was near the city and I could go home every day, and I got to visit different countries and get more flight hours booked, which is what I wanted… To FLY.
I: Was it hard at the beginning when you started?
M: “ I started as a co-pilot, and went through a whole new set of course training for the CASA-212 Aircraft that I was assigned to, and flew for about 2 years before I got the opportunity to be assigned to fly, my now favorite aircraft, the C-130h. My experience extended through second Iraq War, Bosnia, and various other humanitarian and U.N. sanctioned missions. Along with classified missions I am not at liberty to discuss.
As more than a 20 year veteran in the Air Force, I rose through the ranks via my perseverance for excellency and meticulous attention to procedure and detail. No shortcuts. These are the ranks in The Royal Jordanian Air Force as I gained them, they are as follows:
- 1 STAR = 2nd Lieutenant (Graduated at 20)
- 2 STARS = First Lieutenant (at 23 years old)
- 3 STARS = Captain (at 26 years old)
- CROWN = Major (at 31 years old)
- CROWN + STAR = Lieutenant Colonel (at 36 years old)
I: Why did you leave the Air Force? It seems you had a long and prosperous career ahead of you.
M: “Even now, I get letters and get told by people that they miss me and they days we worked together in the Air Force. The truth us that after I was offered the opportunity to continue up the ranks to General, a family tragedy left me unable to pursue my military career, and so I retired with honors and high recommendations from my commanders. My life path pointed me in the direction of flying in the private sector, but a long and complicated set of events would lead me to the United States, and now here with Starlight Projects.”
I: So How did you end up working with Starlight Projects?
M: “ It was a woman that came into the garage where I was helping out a friend behind the counter with, and asked to have her emissions inspection done. While she waited for her car we talked and she told me about her work, and the Non-Profit she was with (Starlight Projects.org). It was interesting enough that she left me some info and I looked into it when she left. When I read the material and put it together with the energy this woman had when she was talking about the work, It seemed unreal that we had just met out of pure coincidence. I took it as a sign that I was looking for meaning in the fact that my life’s path had taken a detour. And here it was speaking to me. SO I came on board. That woman was non other than Krys, our Program Director. Hahaha (laughs) and now my wife as well."
I: So what kind of role do you play at Starlight as the Senior Security and Logistics Director?
M: “I am the person that makes the ‘dreams’ become a reality in this very complicated world. It’s OK to dream. Dreaming is FREE. But to make it happen is a different story. Its like flying. The boy, my friend the dreamer, never became a pilot, but the boy (me) that worked hard and jumped through hoops and the fire, that boy became a man, then became a pilot, and rose to Lt. Colonel. Do you understand? I make sure we stay on track. That our expectations of reality are in sync with the aspirations of our creative people that make our programs happen. I make sure we make it to the finish line, and that we do so with everyone safely.”
I: Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
M: “I see myself expanding our network to offer the same safety net to other charity partners out there that we work with. Security is a big thing for us because we are working with the community and tensions run high. Especially in this very volatile social climate today. I give my services for the sake of others. I used to do it for my family, and now my comprehension has expanded to include all those innocents in the world that deserve a voice and security of safe sleep at night, and a good meal to eat at least once a day. Most of those who suffer are kids. And I have seen that with my very two own eyes. I am not blind, it is the opposite. Now I see.
Personally, I plan to go into the private security sector. I think it is the best choice and best compatibility with my expertise.”
I: Why don’t you become a flight instructor?
M: “ (Laughs Loudly) I don’t think so. I am a horrible instructor. I am too strict. I will tell you a funny story… When I was still co-pilot, I was being considered for Captain, and I was told by my commander, and I got so mad! I was raging mad! (laughs) I will never forget his face. I said to him… ‘NO! I don’t want to become a Captain.’ He says ‘Why?’, and I answered, ‘because all the co-pilots are lazy and they are slow. At least when I’m the co-pilot I do everything right, by the book, I know my instruments and I am the best. If I am the Captain I have to deal with these slow dummys and I will surely die in one of these flights. One of them will be the death of me!... hahaha (laughs loudly) he looked at me like I was crazy. I was young and proud. But it is true what I said…. So I used to get reports to my commander, from co-pilots that flew with me, complaints that I was too strict, because I would not allow shortcuts like placing a little mark next to the instruments, instead of knowing the numbers in your head. So there is your answer."