MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- It’s a rare quiet morning on Moody Air Force Base. A crowd begins to amass in a hangar with their heads held high and smiling as they greet one another, all the while mourning the loss of the most influential civic leader and advocate Moody AFB, and many argue the Air Force, has ever had.
The crowd was made up of nearly 1,000 guests who have been personally impacted by a Southern Georgia legend. Air Force leaders past and present to include Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Gen. Mike Holmes, Air Combat Command commander, Team Moody and the South Georgia community gathered for the W. Parker Greene Celebration of Life ceremony, March 14, 2019, at Moody AFB.
"It's a real honor and privilege to be here today and share comments about the life and legacy of W. Parker Greene," said Larry Hanson, Georgia Municipal Association executive director. "As I look around this room, I see so many who knew and admired Parker for the great man that he was. To try to summarize his life and his deeds in a few moments is no easy task."
Greene was a father, husband, longtime advocate for South Georgia and tireless supporter of Airmen. During his more than 40 years in Valdosta, Georgia, he started by serving on the Red Carpet Committee in 1970, he then served on the military affairs committee within the local chamber of commerce and later became the executive director of the Moody Support Committee, which most notably was responsible for protecting Moody AFB from closure in 1991.
Greene not only served his community but was one of the original members of the 25- year-old leadership council group, now known as the Air Combat Command Commander’s group. Holmes took a moment to reflect on Greene’s contributions.
“We talk in the Air Force about servant leadership and that's exactly what Parker was. He was a servant, a leader, an advocate and a friend,” Holmes said. “When I talk to anybody about community leaders and about how things were supposed to be done, the conversation always came back to Parker and Dr. Lucy and the standards they set.”
In 2009, Greene was awarded the Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award. During the ceremony, Goldfein had the distinct honor of presenting Greene’s second DPSA to his family. Mr. Greene is the first to ever receive two DPSAs, the highest honor the Air Force can bestow upon a civilian.
“Parker Greene makes us want to be better men and women, to live up to a higher standard, to love and care for Airmen as much as he did and to give with no expectation of getting anything in return,” Goldfein said. “As (19th Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz) pointed out, Mr. Parker and Dr. Lucy were a remarkable pair, two loyal longtime enduring champions for our Air Force and for our Airmen.”
Col. Jennifer Short, 23rd Wing commander, has felt the impact of Greene's selfless devotion to the Air Force during her time in South Georgia. She presented a flag, which traveled by the side of Moody AFB Airmen as they completed diverse missions around the world, in honor of Greene to his family as a token of appreciation.
"This flag was flown on every platform we fly here at Moody," Short said. "It flew over the skies of South Georgia in an HC-130. It was flown in combat over Helmand Province, Afghanistan with the 23rd Fighter Group. It flew with the 81st Fighter Squadron over the capital city of Kabul in an A-29; over the deserts of Africa with the 347th Rescue Group in an HH-60. It traveled back roads in a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle with the defenders from the 93rd Air-Ground Operations Wing. Finally, it was raised and flown on the flagpole at the George W. Bush Air Park. It is symbolic of Parker's unwavering support of every Airman across this installation."
The ceremony concluded with the flyover of an HC-130J Combat King II and two HH-60G Pave Hawks in aerial refueling formation followed by four A-10C Thunderbolt IIs in Missing Man formation. The Missing Man formation is an aerial salute in memory of a fallen pilot, a well-known military service member or veteran, or a well-known political figure and no other civic leader has been more dedicated and influential than Mr. W. Parker Greene.
"Thank you to Moody (AFB) for today and really for always being a part of our lives," said W. Parker Greene, Jr. "Thank you for impacting my mom and dad's life in such a profoundly positive way. Dad loves you, Moody (AFB), Valdosta and the entire United States Air Force. He loved every moment of his involvement."