United States Air Force (USAF) Major Sean M. Yoder, formerly of LaGrange and a 1988 graduate of Lakeland High School, was recently honored by his family and friends in a retirement ceremony held at Hill Air Force Base (AFB) in Utah. His wife, the former Merlinda Lara of San Antonio, Texas, and their two children were also recognized for their continued support throughout his career.
Major Yoder, son of Charles and Wanda Yoder of LaGrange, is currently serving as the Special Projects Officer and 75th Communications and Information Directorate at Hill AFB. His retirement represents 20 years of military service and will become effective April 1, 2014.
Major Yoder's ceremony was presided over by Lieutenant Colonel Duane Nordeen. He was presented with several certificates of recognition along with letters of in honor of his dedication to the country from former presidents George W. and George H. Bush as well as from President Obama. An American flag was given to him following a flag ceremony honoring him.
Among his awards and decorations are Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Achievement Medal with four bronze oak leaf clusters. Each oak leaf represents an additional medal.
Major Yoder most recently held the position of Networks Officer in Charge, Regional Support Command-North, Camp Spann, Afghanistan. He directed three key mission areas and was tasked to deliver command and control for over 40,000 Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) across nine Afghan provinces. These included overseeing the radio maintenance and network training for ANSF within the Northern Area of Responsibility, as well as managing Air Force, Army and Canadian forces to survey and inspect networks for the Afghan Army/Police units. Major Yoder initiated key leader engagements and assisted ANSF advisors to ensure successful management of their $14.5 million infrastructure.
Yoder’s background took him to various countries and duties across four Air Force major commands, an Air Force agency, one joint command and one coalition/combined command. His assignments have taken him and his family to Texas, Mississippi, Illinois, Florida, Alaska and Utah. He has worked overseas in Japan, Crete, Korea, England, Germany, Italy and Morocco as well as deployments to Albania, Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operations Southern Watch, Shining Hope, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom.
Yoder entered the U.S. Air Force upon his high school graduation. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational education from Southwest Texas University in 1998, graduated in 2004 from Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB in Alabama, graduated in 2008 from Air Command and Staff College, and received his Masters of Applied Science in information systems management from Touro University in California.
During his special assignments he has held such positions as plans and programs chief and base systems deputy flight commander, 1st Combat Communication Squadron from August 1998 until May 2000, and intelligence systems program manager, U.S. Air Forces of Europe (USAFE) Computer Support Squadron from May 2000 until September 2001 while stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Europe, executive officer with the 782nd Training Group from September 2001 until January 2003 and Support Flight Commander with the 82nd Communications Squadron from January 2003 until October 2004 while at Sheppard AFB in Texas, and airborne communications program manager from October 2004 until October 2006, wireless media branch chief from October 2006 until June 2007, and voice networks branch chief from June 2007 until September 2008, all with the Air Force Communications Agency at Scott AFB in Illinois. He also served as base operations division chief for Special Operations Command-CENTCOM (Central Command) from September 2008 until August 2011 at MacDill AFB in Florida. He came to Hill AFB in Utah in August 2011, serving a year as communications operations and maintenance director with the 729th Air Control Squadron and moving up in August 2012 to special project officer, 75th Communications and Information Directorate.