SMSgt Maranda Jordan: A Force for Good in Tornado-Hit Community

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jeffrey Grossi
  • 911th Airlift Wing

There is no singular reason why someone chooses to join the Air Force Reserve. But one trait shared by all is apparent – a strong desire to serve both their country and local community. Through their commitment, they contribute to disaster relief efforts, community outreach programs, and volunteer their time in communities they choose to call home. Senior Master Sgt. Maranda Jordan, the maintenance operations superintendent assigned to the 911th Maintenance Group, is a testament to the dedication of the Steel Airmen of the 911th Airlift Wing and all Reserve Citizen Airmen everywhere.

Growing up in the town of Chester, West Virginia, (population fewer than 3,000) Jordan couldn’t wait to break out into the world at large. At the age of 21, she enlisted in the active duty Air Force as an air transportation specialist. As a young Airman, she served at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, and Andersen AFB, Guam, where she was selected as Airman Below the Zone and achieved the rank of senior airman.

After six years, she joined the Air Force Reserve as a maintenance management analyst assigned to the 911th Maintenance Squadron. It became Jordan’s responsibility to determine the cost efficiency of maintenance activities and the schedules in which they operate, collect and analyze data, and report those findings up the chain of command to ensure operations ran as efficiently as possible. Through grit and a commitment to service, Jordan rose through the ranks and achieved senior master sergeant within 11 years.

On May 8, 2024, the National Weather Service confirmed a high-end EF2 tornado hit parts of Jefferson County, Ohio, and Hancock County, West Virginia, just west of Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station. The weather system touched down after 1 a.m. and swept through Chester, West Virginia. With winds reaching max speeds of 130 mph, it destroyed at least three homes and damaged nearly a dozen more in the area.

The following morning, Jordan watched as newsreels depicted the devastation of the once scenic countryside she used to call home.

“There is no short supply of tragedy that we see on the news,” said Jordan. “You always feel the need to get involved, but most disasters are so far away and there is little opportunity to go and make a direct impact. But this was my hometown. How could I not go? So, I just went out and started asking questions. ‘What do you need? What can i do?’”

On May 10, Jordan began organizing a local effort on a social media page designed for concerned citizens living in Chester. Seeking volunteers to join her in clean up efforts for farms along National Road, Jordan invited anyone willing to help. Prioritizing her efforts on one family, whose home lost large sections of its roof and whose land was littered with debris, she communicated the need for donations of clothing and mattresses.

“In November of last year they lost their husband and father and now are dealing with all of this,” Jordan said. “Three children live here and the twin boys' bedroom got the worst of it.”

Jordan's upbringing, influenced by her grandfather's charitable activities and the tight-knit nature of the town of Chester, instilled in her an appreciation for community support and the importance of lending a helping hand to those in need.

“My grandfather regularly organized car cruises for charity,” said Jordan. “As I matured I realized that's what makes small towns so special – there’s never a shortage of good people showing up to lend a helping hand. Chester is a perfect example of that.”

After 16 hours over the course of two days, Jordan and her fellow volunteers within the Chester community cleared more than six dump trucks worth of debris from the family’s home and farm with the aim to clear a space for their livestock to graze.

"I don't want to take much credit," Jordan said, "There were a lot of people who showed up out of their own volition. I just want to get the word out there. There is still more to do"

Stressing the ongoing need for assistance, Jordan underscores that while the storm may have passed, the work of rebuilding homes and lives is only just beginning.