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FTS Federal, Inc's Newest Veteran Shares his Thoughts

Like Father, Like Son

The McElhinney Clan’s tie to service spans three generations

Veterans Day is such an important day on the calendar. We all know to be thankful for the selfless service every veteran has given to defend our freedom and the American way of life we treasure so much. We often say “thank you for your service,” and we mean it. But, how often do we take the time to ask a veteran meaningful questions about his or her service experience? There is a rich history behind each vet’s personal story. FTS Federal’s newest veteran, retired SMSgt. Ray McElhinney, was enthusiastic to share his thoughts when asked about his distinguished 20-year career in the Air Force. 

Ray’s motivation to serve his country started early. Growing up a military brat (his dad served in the Air Force for 26 years) made following in his father’s footsteps a natural path. Ray

enlisted in 1979, gaining not only a job but a college education. He described basic training at Lackland, AFB as brutal and remembered thinking “Why did I ever decide to do this?” but persevered and ended his training as an Honor Graduate. 

He was assigned as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Maintenance Technician and ultimately a Supervisor serving in Wyoming, California, North Dakota, and Colorado Springs. When asked about his favorite assignment, he said, “Colorado Springs, at Peterson AFB, where I served as ICBM Missile Engineering Superintendent and HQ Air Force Space Command ICBM Superintendent. [It] was my favorite assignment due to it being near family and friends again, as I returned to where I enlisted in the AF and where my dad previously retired.” 

Ray earned commendation and achievement medals throughout his career but is most proud to have received recognition for authoring a technical order on protecting nuclear storage facilities from the hazards of lightning. Recalling the achievement, he writes, “It was a surprise, and I was humbled [that] leadership recognized this important safety manual for our facilities and troops.” 

Reflecting on his life, Ray credits both experiences (growing up in the military and serving as a member) as shaping him into the person he is today: “I would not change a thing.” In keeping with tradition, Ray’s son, Jason, served 13 years in Air Force Intelligence and is now a Navy Civilian. Perhaps the fourth generation of McElhinneys will serve our country.

Since retiring from the Air Force in 1999, Ray has worked as a government contractor in a variety of network-engineering and cybersecurity roles. He joins FTS as an IA Cybersecurity Analyst working for the Air Force's A1 Manpower, Personnel and Services - Digital Transformation Activity and brings a wealth of experience and professionalism to our team. He also holds the title of Grandpa; Ray is the proud grandfather of five. He is pictured here with his newest grandchild, Killian, on September 16, 2020.

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