JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
One of the most influential military civic leaders for Air Combat Command passed away Dec. 18, 2018, in Valdosta, Georgia.
Parker Greene, an Air Force advocate for most of his life, made it his goal to support the operations of Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, and to improve the relationship between the military and local community in Valdosta.
“The entire Air Force mourns the loss of Parker Greene,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “For more than 40 years, ‘Mr. Parker,’ as he was known, was a staunch supporter of the Air Force, our Airmen, our families, and especially those serving at Moody AFB. During his tenure as an Air Force civic leader, Mr. Greene communicated community concerns to Air Force leadership and spoke about the Air Force’s mission and programs to the public.
“In so doing,” Goldfein continued, “Mr. Greene increased national awareness and understanding of the Air Force’s role in national defense and helped build vitally important grassroots support for our service.”
In short, there are civic leaders, and then there was Parker Greene.
But to truly understand why Greene is considered by many to be a legend, one must look to the beginning of his involvement with ACC and honor the legacy he left behind.
Greene originally moved to Valdosta in March of 1970 as a manager of Rhodes Furniture, Inc. Gasoline cost roughly 36 cents a gallon, and a newscaster would be spouting that Apollo 13’s launch was quickly approaching.
On Greene’s first day in the city, he introduced himself to the local chamber of commerce and soon joined their military affairs committee.
A chamber of commerce is a group of business and community leaders working together to increase commerce and serve community goals using their shared strength versus acting alone. Most military affairs committees are a sub-unit of the chamber, and their goal is to improve the relationship between local businesses and military members.
By 2018, Greene had been actively serving to strengthen the bonds between the civilian and military community in Georgia for more than 48 years. His commitment to public service began long ago, before the Apollo 13’s crew landed safely back on Earth, before the Watergate scandal, before Apple Computer was founded, before John Lennon was shot and before former president George H.W. Bush was elected as the 41st president.
Into his third decade of service, he first heard of this “new” Air Force major command standing up at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. And it was through his collaboration with many Air Force senior leaders that he helped shape what would become Air Combat Command.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early ‘90s, the Air Force needed to create a lasting organization aimed at the nation’s defense in a post Cold-War world. This culminated in the inactivation of Strategic Air Command and Tactical Air Command in 1992, and the establishment of Air Combat Command.
The reorganization had many moving parts, including the redistribution of weapon systems, assets and responsibilities. ACC would then have administrative control over various bases throughout America, and it was essential that the surrounding community leaders of those bases understand ACC’s mission.
So, the first commander of ACC gathered a group of civilian dignitaries together and asked if they would act as his council on community matters and if they could relay important information about the command’s priorities to the local civilian media, key business holders and elected officials. Now called the ACC Commander’s Group, this entity has been active for the past 25 years protecting communities and advocating on behalf of the military.
It was no surprise that Greene was an original member of the group, and his contributions to national defense broadened in scope from Georgia to the entire nation.
It is impossible to identify all of Greene’s contributions to the partnership that exists among the Air Force and communities surrounding Air Force bases. But, here are a few of his accomplishments and accolades in chronologic order.
He began serving on the Red Carpet Committee in 1970, which conducted a quarterly dinner at a local clubhouse for all new military members assigned to Moody AFB.
Greene served as the chairman of the military affairs committee from 1972 to 1985.
He then became the executive director of the Moody Support Committee, a position created by the Valdosta and Lowndes County governments and the local business community in 1991 to help protect Moody AFB from closure from the creation of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Greene was aptly credited with “making Moody BRAC proof.”
He was appointed in the Georgia Military Affairs Committee by the governor in 2000. He used this position to assist many other military installations in Georgia, offered counsel and advice to Georgia governors and coordinated visits for the governor to meet with Air Force and Pentagon officials.
In 2005, Greene earned a place in the newly formed nationwide Citizen Support Group, where he has been able to interact with Air Force chiefs of staff and provide trusted counsel on community matters to top Air Force leaders.
Also in 2005, a portion of Bemiss Road from Valdosta to Moody AFB was renamed the W. Parker Greene Highway.
In 2007, he earned the first ever Chief of Staff of the Air Force Award for Exceptional Public Service.
Moody AFB’s headquarters building was dedicated in 2007 as the W. Parker Greene Base Support Center.
Green earned an Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award in 2009. This is the highest honor the Air Force can bestow upon a civilian.
Gen. Mark A. Welsh, former chief of staff of the Air Force, honored Greene at the 2014 Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition for his years of exceptional service to the Air Force.
“ACC mourns the passing of this special man, Mr. Parker Greene, who brought so much joy to the lives of others,” said Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of ACC. “At a time when fewer than one percent of the American public has any affiliation with the military, Parker Greene continued to be a trusted confidant for Air Combat Command, the 23rd Wing and 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, for over 40 years.
“His community connections were invaluable for ACC leadership and an inspiration to all,” Holmes added. “Mr Greene’s dedicated support of Airmen, his base and the ACC mission is sincerely appreciated by each and every member in blue - past, present and future.”
This sentiment was echoed by the current commander of the 23rd Wing at Moody AFB, Col. Jennifer Short.
“Parker was a great American who worked tirelessly to support and improve the lives of Airmen and their families,” she said. “He left an unparalleled legacy of selflessness, kindness and service to others. He will be deeply missed by Team Moody.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a future date.