News Search

From airman basic to colonel, Greenwood retires

CONCORD, N.H. -- Brig. General Deborah Carter (then Colonel), administers the oath of office to Col. Rick Greenwood during his promotion ceremony at the Joint Forces Headquarters drill hall in Concord, March 25, 2009.  (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Vezeau/Released)

CONCORD, N.H. -- Brig. Gen. Deborah Carter (then Colonel), administers the oath of office to Col. Rick Greenwood during his promotion ceremony at the Joint Forces Headquarters drill hall in Concord, March 25, 2009. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Vezeau/Released)

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- With the Vietnam draft lottery denying student deferments, a young Rick Greenwood studying at the University of New Hampshire decided during the summer of 1972 to enlist in the Air Force. He was unaware it was the beginning of a career of service that would take him from an airman basic on active duty, to a colonel in the New Hampshire Air National Guard.

Nearly 40-years later, recently retired Greenwood remembers well the first time he ever flew on an airplane when he went to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

"I'd never even seen a jet before taking my first airplane ride to San Antonio, Texas for basic training," said Greenwood.

It was soon after being assigned to Pease Air Force Base in January 1973 as a crew chief on the FB-111A aircraft with the 509th Bomb Wing, that he was selected for the Airmen's Education and Commissioning Program (AECP).

"I was able to complete my degree from UNH after being selected for AECP," continued Greenwood. "However, as the Vietnam War was winding down, the need for active duty officers wound down, as well."

As a result, Greenwood was released from active and was assigned to the Air Force Re-serves at Westover Air Force Base, Mass. to fulfill his remaining commitment.

"It was during this timeframe that I discovered a well-kept secret - the New Hampshire Air National Guard," Greenwood said. "I applied and was accepted for a position in January 1976 to the flight line as an assistant crew chief on the newly assigned KC-135A aircraft."

Since then, the Air National Guard has been home to Greenwood.

"It's where I grew up; where I've met most of my closest friends; where I've learned the meaning of selfless service; where opportunities were provided to travel and experience people and cultures that most can only imagine," he said. "I‟ve been tested under the most stressful of conditions."

Having served in several positions over his career, it's difficult to choose just one that stands out above all, the colonel admits.

"As a crew chief I loved the excitement and the camaraderie," Greenwood said. "As an intelligence officer, I learned more about the mission of the New Hampshire Air National Guard than I ever thought possible."

Greenwood was also selected as the first Air Force officer to command the Joint Counter Narco-terrorism Task Force.

"This position was really foreign to me but I grew to love it," he said. "We interfaced with federal, state and local law enforcement on a daily basis on drug intervention."

"The people assigned to this task force were some of the most dedicated, intelligent, mission-driven people I've ever served with," continued Greenwood.

The opportunity he had to work with non-governmental organizations was the perfect way to close out nearly 40 years of service.

"Working with the NGOs was a real transformation," said Greenwood. "To discover the passion and desire they have to care for our service members was one of the most heart-felt discoveries of my career."

Now as Greenwood looks back on a successful career, he leaves this advice for Airmen serving today.

"Challenge yourself always. If you become complacent, make a change, even if it's uncomfortable," he said. "Seek mentors from all levels and places and listen to them. Position yourself for success."

The Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran now wonders what's next and where can he makes his biggest impact. He has to look no further than where started.

"I'd like to find a way, utilizing all my experiences, to work to ensure that our forgotten veterans from the Vietnam era are provided the care, treatment and entitlements they so richly deserve," said Greenwood.

Greenwood shares the same sentiment a young soldier who recently returned from Iraq said to him when he asked why he serves.

"Why wouldn't I? When someone needs help, why wouldn't I answer the call?"

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.