477th Commander Celebrates Fini Flight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melissa Estevez
  • 477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

Col. Jonathan Gration Jr., 477th Fighter Group commander, celebrated his fini flight after 17 years of flying on the F-22 Raptor, June 24, 2022. He is currently the longest flying F-22 pilot in the Air Force.

Col. Gration earned his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2000.  He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and is a command pilot with more than 2,400 flying hours in the T-37, T-38, F-15C/D, and F-22A.  

Gration was initially a F-15 C pilot at Langley-Eustis Air Force Base, Virginia, in the 27th Fighter Squadron. The 27th Fighter Squadron was the first squadron picked to transition to the F-22 in the Air Force.

“2005 was my first flight in the month of June,” said Gration. “So here we are in the month of June right now 17 years later doing my final flight in the F-22.”

His father, Retired Maj. Gen. Jonathan Gration Sr., said it was a special moment to be able to salute his son as he taxied out to the runway. His mother, Judy, said she was proud and excited. She enjoyed watching the process of getting the aircraft ready for flight.

“What I am going to do today with my dad present is fly the same exact route of flight that he flew on his final flight in the Air Force,” said Gration Jr.

Gration Sr. was the 3rd Wing commander from 1998-2000 when Gration was in college. Gration Sr. flew the F-15 D model, which had a two-seat configuration.

“I used to come up here to visit them, which made me fall in love with Alaska and with the F-15. My dad did his final flight in the F-15 at Elmendorf 22 years ago,” said Gration Jr. “So that’s what really made me want to be an F-15 pilot, was just being up here and seeing my dad fly the airplane around Alaska.”

As a cadet in the Air Force Academy, Colorado, Gration Jr. had the opportunity to receive a backseat ride on the F-15. This cemented the desire he had to become a fighter pilot in the Air Force. 

Gration served 11 years in the active duty Air Force before joining the Air Force Reserve in 2011 where he currently serves as a traditional reservist. While not serving in uniformed service, Gration is a first officer for FedEx Express. 

“Flying an airliner is more analogous to driving a big bus. It’s designed for the mission it has. It’s not as maneuverable but it can carry 150,000 pounds of freight across the ocean,” said Gration Jr. “Flying the F-22 is like driving a Corvette, it’s more maneuverable, you can turn faster, and it looks a little cooler.”

The Air Force Reserve leverages experienced Reserve Citizen Airmen with military and corporate skills in critical demand to enhance our readiness. Employer support is vital to Reserve Citizen Airmen; it enables Air Force Reserve readiness and strengthens our national defense. 

Col. Gration said he will continue to be the commander of the 477th for as long as they allow him to do so. Gration Sr. instilled in his son the importance of “team” and this has become one of his priorities: People First… ALWAYS! The second priority being Accelerate Readiness.

“Our individual, unique, perspectives make us an effective team,” said Gration Jr. “By recognizing the different strengths that everyone brings to our team, the 477th Fighter Group is able to generate combat power more efficiently.”