Thursday, November 14, 2002

On Active Duty: Capt. John Ginn

Published in the Current

John Ginn, the son of Cape resident Gregg Ginn and stepson of Town Councilor Mary Ann Lynch, is an attack-helicopter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps. Capt. Ginn attended high school in Massachusetts and went to Colby College in Waterville, graduating in 1997.

“The idea of military service was always something that interested me,” said Ginn, whose father is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. He chose a civilian college rather than a military academy or enlisting right out of high school because he wanted to continue to participate actively in football, basketball and lacrosse.

Stationed at New River, N.C., just adjacent to the large Marine base at Camp Lejeune, Ginn completed his flight training a year ago, after four years in the Marines, attending officer school, a rigorous six-month basic training course, infantry officer school, and primary and advanced flight school. He flies AH-1W SuperCobra, an attack helicopter that can carry a wide range of weapons, including missiles and rockets.

This summer, Ginn was qualified as an attack-helicopter commander, meaning he is now responsible for an entire helicopter, its crew and any weapons it may carry.

The military flight training is rigorous, he said, but rewarding. His advanced training means he has had to spend a long period of time in the service and still “owes” five additional years of service before he has the option to leave or renew his commission.

Flying Cobras, he said, is a good challenge and provides a good opportunity for camaraderie. “The Cobra community has always been a very competitive community and that was always a big draw for me,” he said.

Ginn said his infantry training has been a benefit because it allows him to know first-hand what soldiers on the ground expect from the helicopters he now flies.

“Everything in the Marine Corps is supporting the grunt on the ground,” Ginn said.

Many of the people he went through initial infantry training with are already leaving the military for civilian work, he said, while he is just getting started in a real duty station and is in early preparations for his first overseas deployment.

His wife, Jenn, has family in North Carolina, which played a big role in his choice of duty station. “There is one thing you can count on: You are going to be gone a long time,” Ginn said. He wanted to be sure his wife would have a good support structure nearby when he is away for six-month missions or shorter training missions.

Before they got married, he and Jenn had a lot of open discussions about the reality of his responsibilities, and continue to trust in their faith that things will work out well in the end.

He knows veterans are worried about the prospect of future wars, but trusts the government’s experience to handle the present Iraq and Afghanistan problems well.

A number of his fellow pilots are looking to use their flight training as a stepping-stone to commercial aviation, either for helicopter companies or major airlines. Ginn said that’s not what he’s interested in. “I wouldn’t want to trade places with anybody,” he said.

But he is not yet sure if the Marines will become a career or whether he will leverage his leadership skills into a civilian job. He has his own goals for the next few years of his service, in addition to the Marines’ goals for him. He wants to keep his options open and has considered, among other possibilities, the Secret Service.