MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Editors Note: This article was contributed by longtime Moody supporter Dr. Lucy Greene and focuses on her memories and interactions with members of the U.S. Air Force stationed at Moody.
The first greeting we received from enthusiastic Airmen assigned to Moody Air Force Base was on the screened porch at Ocean Pond Clubhouse during a rousing Red Carpet party.
We had just moved to Valdosta in 1970 and were invited by our neighbor, Col. Clarence Parker, who was serving as the wing commander at Moody from 1968-70. Young Airmen were gathering on the porch to sing as they attended this fantastic event. We then helped serve the Swamp Salad and fried chicken and continued to meet one after another of the Air Force family assigned to Moody and newly arrived to Valdosta just like us.
Parker invited us to sponsor some of the allied students who were in training at Moody. Immediately we fell in love with the allied students along with the amazing people who volunteered to defend our great country and were involved in the training mission.
At that time Moody was an Air Training Command base, training pilots, who arrived every 6 weeks to begin training, as another group was graduating after a year of training. Red Carpet parties were held every 6 weeks during these years and kept us in close touch with our Moody neighbors.
During the ATC training days, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan of the Saudi Arabian royal family was trained at Moody. He visited in our home along with his assistant on many occasions. He entertained at the Moody Officer’s Club in a lavish fashion.
As a young man in the furniture business, Parker was enlisted into the local Chamber of Commerce by the director, Johnny B. Lastinger, and under his mentorship Parker signed up for the Military Affairs Committee. The men who were working on military affairs during our early years here were Bob Hall, Jake Myddleton, Walt Carter, Roger Budd, Billy Langdale, John Williams and Dr. Harry Mixon. With this group plus many others, Parker made many trips to Washington, D.C., to keep lawmakers aware of Moody AFB and to inquire of Pentagon leaders how Moody could assist in our efforts to defend the country.
Parker was then asked to be Chairman of Military Affairs and held that position for many years. The Moody Support Group was established in 1991 and separated from the Chamber of Commerce at that time. He has been Executive Director since the establishment of this group which is sponsored by Valdosta City, Lowndes County and several local businessmen. Sen. Sam Nunn urged Parker to take this position. Many local citizens work with this group on an ad-hoc basis.
As you can see, our Moody memories revolve around PEOPLE, those from the Community as well as from the military. Moody has evolved from ATC, to Tactical Air Command, to Air Combat Command, to AF Special Operations Command, back to ACC, adding an Air Education and Training Command group for a short time and has hosted many different aircraft.
When Moody was a training command base, our leaders were Col. Parker, Gen. Schneider (1970-71) (who arrived at our door one morning at 2 AM wanting some Georgia grits after flying back from Korea), Gen. Fox, Gen. Kertesz, and Col. Hardee who worked through the transition to TAC (73-76). Pretty soon, Robert Cass and Jack Gregory(76-78) (who became a 4 star and Pacific Air Force commander) took us into the fighter world. Gen. Gregory commissioned a group of local citizens into the WHITE KNUCKLE SQUADRON. Gen. Tolbert (1978-79) followed and hosted many Air Force generals for hunting expeditions in South Georgia (gentleman’s hunt) where coolers filled with quail went home with the visitors.
The fantastic Civic Leader expeditions that Parker helped organize under Col. Hosmer (79-81), Col. Vosika (81-83), Gen. Hermes (83-85), Gen. Glosson (85-86), Col. Dave Oakes (86-88) and Col. Joe Prater (88-90) added much knowledge of the Air Force for the South Georgia citizens invited to join a trip. These were held when more funds were available for this type adventure and we were not fighting a war.
When Gen. Esmond (90-92) came to Moody everything changed as the serious conflicts in the Middle East began and Moody had continuous deployments during DESERT STORM. At the end of Gen. Esmond’s tour and moving into Col. James Mathers as Wing Commander (92-94), Moody and the local communities stepped up to assist the Air Force families who were devastated by Hurricane Andrew in August of 1992. When Gen. Loh, ACC Commander phoned to ask if South Georgia could handle all the people needing a home, everyone –business people, private citizens, banks, grocery stores, State Patrol and local police agencies, etc. wanted to help. People opened their homes and their hearts as the families arrived many times with only the clothes they were wearing. A major effort took place to find places for all the people to live and to serve at Moody. This was certainly a high water mark for this area and for the Air Force. Donated items were collected at a tobacco warehouse south of town and the Airmen drove through to select what each needed.
The wing from Homestead remained here for about a year until all the new locations could be determined. Gen. Van Valkenberg managed to save a old car which became the Wing limo during their stay.
When Gen. Kinnan (94-96) arrived at Moody, he was so knowledgeable as to cyber space and the computer world that he modernized all the computer systems on the base while still fighting the Middle Eastern conflicts. Gen. Johnston (96-98) and Gen. Gene Renuart (98-2000)(who also became the 4-star Commander of Norad/Northcom) took Moody to war as well, establishing “Camp Braveheart” in the Middle East. Gen. Rosa(00-01) (who rode a Harley and is now Citadel Commandant) followed, then Gen. Folkerts(01-03) continuing Moody’s continuous involvement in our war zones.
Gen. Folkerts was Commander when 9/11 rocked the nation. Gen. Folkerts (along with Col. Parker, Gen. Tolbert and Col. Prater) made permanent homes in this area upon retirement. Gen. Heithold (03-05) carried Moody through its service under AFSOC. His dream was to have an Air Park at Moody and he began that plan during his time here.
The wars continue under Gen. Callahan (05-07), Gen. Todorov (07-09), Col. Henderson (09-11), Gen. Thompson (11-13), and Gen. Franks (13-15).
When the Air Ground Operations Wing and the Base Defense Group became part of the Moody mission, other outstanding leaders have lived among us and reside in our memories. Gen. Horner, Gen. Kindsvater are only two of many who have led those groups. There are also so many Squadron Commanders, Group Commanders, Chiefs, and Airmen who live in our hearts. These are too numerous to mention. The memories are so plentiful but your reader interest may be weary at this point.
The Red Carpet parties continue to welcome newcomers and the outstanding service of those assigned to Moody AFB continues and spreads throughout the Air Force and the nation. Those assigned to Moody who leave us become part of a very special group of Airmen/spouses who have been christened by us as “Moody Missionaries.”
The former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Mark Welsh, served at Moody as a Colonel and was operations group commander when we were home to the F-16 platforms.
The Air Force has always sent its best to Moody AFB and it is an honor to offer our appreciation and support to Moody AFB and the “WORLD’S GREATEST AIR FORCE!” The high standards and the continual demonstration of EXCELLENCE IN ALL WE DO inspire all those who come in contact with the Moody force. “AIR POWER!”