WESTVILLE, Ill., (WCIA) — Dominick Koontz, a Westville High School grad, is serving our country in one branch of the military you may not know much about. The Space Force.
“Space is a lot bigger and a lot more pertinent in our lives than a lot of people realize,” he said.
Every day as a space systems operator, he monitors aspects of space and works on new equipment to help keep you safe at home.
But, he didn’t begin his military career in the Space Force. In 2018 after graduating high school, he started off in the Air Force as a KC-10 Crew Chief in McGuire, New Jersey.
After three years, Koontz decided that role wasn’t for him, and that’s when the transfer process began.
“I was like, just put me in. I don’t care, just sign me up for it,” he said.
After answering an essay prompt and handwriting his response, he was accepted. From there, he filled out more paperwork in Indiana, went to basic training classes in Texas and then headed to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, about three hours north of Los Angeles.
Next stop? Colorado Springs.
Koontz has lived all over the country since joining the military. He said he’s always wanted to serve, but never imagined he’d be one of the 8,000 uniformed members of the Space Force.
“That was one of the more shocking things, I didn’t realize how exclusive all this stuff was,” Koontz said.
He said his work is a combination of all three disciplines in the Force. That includes space battle management, electronic warfare and orbital warfare.
He said the flood of new information can be overwhelming at times, but he’s had his family’s support the whole time.
He and his wife, Destanie Doan-Koontz, have a 1-year-old daughter, Harlow. They’ve traveled the whole country together from base to base.
“Whatever you want to do, it’s your career, I put mine on pause to make sure you’re set. I can catch up on mine, you do yours now,” Doan-Koontz said.
She said she’s always so proud of him when he comes home after hours of working, and still offers to help with their daughter and around the house.
But, she’s excited to be in Colorado for the next 4-6 years so Harlow can grow up and he can watch more of her milestones. And, she plans to focus on her photography career in the mountains.
They now both know how crucial space is for everyone.
“Take for example our GPS, it tells you where you are. But, that’s kind of the face value of what it does,” he said. “GPS alone, it handles bank transactions ATM transactions, farming, just all these things.”
The Vermilion County War Museum in Danville is recognizing his hard work, adding the Space Force to their Armed Forces display and featuring Koontz.
The museum said they hope to add items from him in the next few weeks.