Airman’s persistence pays off

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle
  • 167AW/PA
Senior Airman Art Greenlee had a clear vision of what his Air Force career would be.
Due to his hard work and persistence, that vision is becoming a reality.
Greenlee said he joined the 167th Airlift Wing because he wanted to be an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was recently selected to be a cyber officer for the Delaware Air National Guard's 166th Network Warfare Squadron.
"My father, who graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in the class of '81, served over 20 years as an officer and I saw firsthand the structure that being an officer brought," Greenlee said. "I determined that is what I wanted as well."
Greenlee joined the unit in 2008. After graduating from basic training as an honor graduate, he went on to cyber transport journeyman school, and then returned to the 167th communications flight in August of 2009 and began his upgrade training.
Just a few months later he enrolled in the undergraduate program at Marshall University. Today he is just a few classes shy of earning his masters degree in information security from American Military University.
Greenlee began looking for commissioning opportunities at the 167th Airlift Wing and surrounding units after he completed his bachelor's degree.
He said he started his search at the website
"That was my roadmap for finding units in the area," he said.
Greenlee said he also did Google searches, used the Air Force Portal and called recruiters at other units to look for opportunities.
"I was calling recruiters and getting positive and negative feedback based on my degree," he said.
Over the course of nine months, Greenlee said he sent out multiple applications and interviewed multiple times.
"I knew my dad withstood hazing and four years at the academy, so I knew I could stand a few rejections and just kept applying," he said.
"I was turned down four or five times and then I was selected," he said.
Greenlee applied for the cyber officer position in February. It was actually the same position he had applied, interviewed and was selected for previously, but it fell through the first time. He said he saw the job was reposted so he re-applied, interviewed and was offered the position.
"I learned from each interview," Greenlee said.
One lesson learned: "Take time to reflect on your weaknesses during the interview and then learn from the experience."
"Officer selection boards can be intimidating. There are usually several officers in the room asking you questions that you may or may not be ready for," he said.
Greenlee said he talked to officers to ask advice.
"My dad, Capt. (David) Sammons, Capt. (Chris) Tusing, Maj. (Tracy) Adams, they all gave me feedback and advice on interviewing," he said.
Greenlee said Tusing was especially helpful.
Tusing recalled several conversations he had with Greenlee. "He wanted to talk to me because I was enlisted," Tusing said. "I took a look at his application package and walked him through my preparations and decision points."
Tusing said their conversations were informal but agreed that he had unknowingly become a mentor to Greenlee.
"It just goes to show that it is important to make the time, to take the time out to talk with the Airmen," Tusing said.
Adding: "It's investing in the future of the wing."
Greenlee said he had a number of quality mentors through his journey to get commissioned.
"I told Maj. Adams when I returned from tech school that I wanted to get commissioned and eventually be in a commander role. He was very helpful and pushed me towards the commissioning route," he said.
Greenlee said he worked with Sammons at the Coast Guard in Martinsburg and his advice to him was to keep his options open and look for jobs outside of the information technology area also.
In addition to the officers, he said he had many enlisted mentors and he found mentors off base too.
"Of course my wife was my biggest encouragement," he said.
As far as this next step in his career, he said he is excited to get it started.
Greenlee said he developed a 10-year plan after technical school that included getting commissioned and then get into a commander role within an Air National Guard unit.
"Right now, I'd like to get further advanced in the IT arena," he said. "I still have a lot to learn."
But he still has his eye set on a command position in the future.
"He's going to be a really good leader," said Senior Master Sgt. Jeffery Samuelson, communication's flight branch chief. "He's always been highly motivated in his military career and he has exceptional military bearing."
"He definitely has the ambition and the dedication to become something much greater than the Airman he came in as," Samuelson said.
Tech. Sgt. Tony Perkins, the wing's communications flight cyber transport and infrastructure maintenance supervisor, echoed Samuelson's sentiments.
"He was thrown into just about every position in comm flight," said Perkins. "He was willing to take on any job tasked to him and he never complained. He would just pick up the ball and run with it."
"I was thrown into a slew of positions that I wasn't trained on, but I tried to be positive and flexible and learn from the experiences," Greenlee said.
And what is Greenlee's advice to others seeking to advance their careers?
"Complete your education as soon as possible; find mentors you feel you can learn from; be positive and be flexible and try to keep a good reputation in your unit."
"I've been happy with my time spent in the 167th Airlift Wing. There are quality people here in Martinsburg," he said.
Greenlee is one of those quality people and he will be missed.
"He's a vibrant young Airman with a promising future," Tusing said. "I hope he comes back to our wing."