Armed Forces Day is Saturday, May 21, and across the country we celebrate the service of our men and women. Created in 1949 to replace separate appreciation days for the Army, Navy, and Air Force, Armed Forces Day is our chance to express our gratitude to all service members.
At the 167th, it’s an opportunity to recognize the diverse backgrounds of our Airmen and celebrate their past service. Many of our members have previously served in the Army, Navy and Marines. Together, these seven Airmen have traveled to over 80 countries and nearly every state in the Union, activated for over 20 deployments and most have seen combat. From these diverse backgrounds, these Airmen offer unique insight into who our Airmen are, the skills they bring from other branches of service, and how this service has influenced them in their current positions at the 167th.
Staff Sgt. Sylvester Payne is the 167th Superintendent of Security Forces and served three years in the Navy when he graduated from high school. Payne was a “green shirt”, which meant he was part of a crew that helped launch and recover planes off the carrier. Payne remembers working 18 hours a day and month aboard a ship, moving from port to port. In his three short years in the Navy, Payne was in Bosnia and Kosovo, the Adriatic Sea, the Persian Gulf and crossed the Suez Canal twice, had two six-month deployments and served on two ships.
“When I was a green shirt I saw planes go into water, planes go on fire, people knocked over on deck. You had to keep your head on a swivel. But it was exhilarating. J ‘enjoyed the job,” Payne said. “But I knew it wasn’t something I had wanted to do for twenty years.
Being from Berkeley Spring, West Virginia, it only made sense that after leaving the Navy in 1998, Payne would join the 167th. He has held positions with the Maintenance Group and the Security Forces Squadron, held several positions to include an extended period of time as a raven, which is a specialized segment of the Security Forces population, and traveled to approximately 50 countries in his 27 years of combined service. When asked what skills he brought with him to the Wing, Payne said two skills, ‘team unity’ and ‘situational awareness’, served him well during his time there. at 167th.
Technology. sergeant. Michael Frye is a firefighter with the 167th and served six years in the military before joining the 167th in 2008. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Calvary Division and 2nd Infantry Division in places like the Korea and Haiti. Frye’s jobs included Airborne and Air Assault, Stinger Missile Team Leader, and Team Leader during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Frye left the Army in 1998 due to rank stagnation and worked in the civilian sector before joining the 167th. He served with the 167th for 14 years and works full-time for the Wing and part-time for Hagerstown Regional Airport as a firefighter. Since joining the Wing, Frye has married, had three children and is now four classes away from earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration and management.
When asked what traits and skills he brought with him from the military, Frye said he learned to “always get up and go.”
“You train to the desired standard, not your perceived ability,” Frye said. “The day is as hard as you let it be and you can face a lot more than you think.”
Technology. sergeant. Thomas Glennon served in the Navy for five years as a machinist welder and completed three Western Pacific cruises, one Arctic cruise and two Persian Gulf tours during the Iraq War. Glennon served on the USS Vincennes, which took hostile fire during an exchange between the USS Elmer Montgomery and Iranian gunboats. The incident claimed many casualties and weighed heavily on Glennon’s view of his role in the Navy. Glennon separated when his enlistment ended in 1990.
“The Navy is a fast-paced organization, you’ll sleep when you’re dead,” Glennon said. “I had a good work ethic before the Navy, but they honed it or abused it.”
Glennon joined the 167th in 1996 and continues to serve faithfully after nearly 30 years of combined service. He first worked as a Drill Status Guardsman and is now a full-time technician.
Senior Staff Sgt. Brad Gloyd served four years in the military and enlisted in the Deferred Entry Program while still a junior in high school at Berkeley Springs. Gloyd worked as a multi-system channel analyst and was stationed in Fort Jackson, South Ca., Fort Gordon, Ga., and Fort Hood, Tx. He served in Bosnia for three months as part of Operation Joint Forge.
Gloyd said his time in the military was marred by poor leadership that failed to look after him as a young soldier. He left the service and returned to West Virginia. Gloyd joined the Wing in 2003 and immediately found the leadership he was looking for. Gloyd says that as a young Airman he had encountered personal problems and that his leaders not only supported him, but fought to keep him in the 167th.
“I thought for sure, the issues I had, that was it, they were going to get me out…and I had just gotten here,” Gloyd said.
But instead, Gloyd pursued a successful career in communications flight and is currently the Senior Enlisted Chief of Cyber Defense Operations.
Staff Sgt. James Keller joined the military when he was 17 and held several positions, including intelligence analyst and signals intercept operator. He was attached to several units to include a special forces unit for four years. Due to the type of units he was attached to, Keller fought early and often, with his first combat operation at the age of 19. Keller’s last deployment was to Afghanistan in 2002. During this mission, Keller led a convoy that was ambushed. His passenger, Sgt. Gene Vance, was killed by a sniper during the attack.
It took several weeks to return home from the ambush and part of that trip was on a C-17. Keller said the aircrew care he and the three surviving members of the ambush received sparked his interest in the Air Force. Keller separated from the military in 2003 and enlisted in the 167th Airlift Wing in 2006.
Keller is currently the first sergeant of the 167th Security Forces Squadron and has 31 years of service. He says what he learned most from his previous service in the military is that keeping a cool head is the most important thing.
“I always keep in mind that emergencies that we may encounter while working on the plane or other things that may happen here are fine,” Keller said. “For the most part, we’re not talking about life and death and so whatever it is, we’re going to fix it.”
Senior Staff Sgt. Josh Michael began his military career as a Marine in 1998 and worked as a gunner and as part of a Riverine Assault Craft (RAC) team. His four years of active duty amassed two six-month deployments, trips to three continents, seven countries and the Suez Canal.
Michael said that in 2002, even though life in the Marines was no longer pleasant, he still wanted to serve, but this time closer to home. Michael, like Payne, is from Berkeley Springs, and found his way to the 167th, just three months after separating from the Marines in June 2002. During his 20 years here, he was assigned to five specialty codes of the Air Force (AFSC) in two different squadrons, all leading to his current position as Senior Enlisted Chief of the Civil Engineer Squadron.
“Being a Marine…it’s the greatest pride I’ve ever had in my life,” Michael said. “It lives deep in your heart and that bearing, the discipline, stays with me.”
Senior Airman Benedict De Leon served seven years in the Army Reserves attached to the 721st Signal Company in Guam, where he maintained computer systems and managed highly sensitive military information. De Leon was born and raised in the Philippines and immigrated to Guam when he was 26 years old. Guam is a US territory and De Leon said he felt the need to render service to the United States in gratitude for living there.
As an immigrant and as a foreigner, I wanted to contribute and I wanted to give back,” De Leon said. “I wanted to be part of the 1% and I’m very proud of that.”
De Leon separated from the Army Reserves in 2018, but used the skills he learned there for his current civilian job as an FBI Assistant Surveillance Officer in Washington D.C. De Leon wanted continue his military service and joined the 167th Communications Flight in November 2019. De Leon currently works in the Client Systems store.
The stories of these Airmen are brought to you by the 167th Airlift Wing Heritage and Diversity Council. The Council is dedicated to sharing the history, culture and diversity of 167th AW Airmen to promote a community of acceptance and inclusion at the Wing. The HDC meets every UTA Sunday and is open to all 167th members.
|Date posted:||23.05.2022 13:56|
|Location:||MARTINSBURG, WV, USA|
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