Mississippi Power maintenance specialist Thomas O’Neal grew up working on a dairy farm in Ohio and never thought he’d end up in the military or being married with three kids living in the South.
However, his three-and-a-half years in the United States Air Force and six-and-a-half years in the Mississippi Air National Guard have taken him places all over the country.
O’Neal, a Canton, Ohio native, joined the military 17 days after graduating from high school.
“I was sent to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, then to Sheppard AFB in Texas,” O’Neal said. “I also spent some time at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., then to Keesler AFB. I was actually a medical lab technician when I got to Keesler, but then I enrolled in the Instrumentation and Controls Program at MGCCC because I wanted to work at a power plant when I finished my full-time military tenure.”
During his stint at Keesler, he ended up meeting his future wife Amanda, who at the time was also stationed at the base.
“My wife was working in the lab one day and said, ‘I will marry the next person who comes through the door and asks me,’ so I just happen to be the next person,” he said. “Obviously it didn’t happen then, but our relationship grew from there. I ended up asking for real a year later, and she said yes.”
Now he and his wife have three children, and he’s been a Mississippi Power employee for a little more than a year.
“This opportunity at the company came open, so I jumped at it,” O’Neal said. “Mississippi Power was always appealing to me because of the company’s family atmosphere. Before I started working here, I never ran into a company employee who didn’t love their job. Now that I’m here, I know why I also love my job.”
O’Neal added that working in Corporate Facilities parallels his military service career.
“My current role gives me plenty of opportunities to travel across the service territory,” he said. “I meet lots of different people in different departments. For us, the customers are the employees. We make sure to take care of everyone.”
Much like the Air Force has taken care of O’Neal since those Ohio dairy farm days.
“The Air Force provided me with a career, plenty of chances to travel and be stationed at other parts of the country,” O’Neal concluded. “They’ve also assisted me as I pursue a bachelor’s degree and support my future plans of becoming a pilot. The military and Mississippi Power have given me a fantastic professional life.”
Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), produces safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy for nearly 187,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties. Mississippi Power ranked first in the Southeast Electric Exchange’s 2016 Safety Performance Reports in all categories in which it participates – fossil/hydro generation, transmission and distribution, corporate and support, and total company – and is consistently recognized as an industry leader in reliability, customer service and safety. With nearly 105 megawatts of approved solar energy capacity, Mississippi Power is the largest partner in providing renewable energy in the state of Mississippi. Visit our websites at mississippipower.com and mississippipowernews.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.