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Air Guard fighter wing commander makes one-star general

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gabe Johnson
  • 162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The commander of the largest Air National Guard fighter wing in the country was promoted to the rank of brigadier general here March 4.

Brig. Gen. Greg Stroud, a full-time F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot with the 162nd Fighter Wing at Tucson International Airport, pinned on the one-star general rank during a promotion ceremony in front of family, friends and fellow Guardsmen. He has served as the unit's top officer since March, 2009.

"It's quite humbling. When I joined the military I never thought I would achieve this rank," said the new general whose promotion was confirmed Feb. 2 by the United States Senate.

"There's no doubt that making the rank is special, but being the wing commander here means more to me. Nobody gets to this point without standing on the shoulders of many, many supporters - military members and family alike. I wouldn't be here without them."

Stroud, originally from Flagstaff, Ariz., graduated from Coconino High School in 1975. The aspiring teacher and high school football coach attended Duke University on a football scholarship where he started at free safety. He graduated from Duke in 1980 receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

In 1981 he received a commission in the U.S. Navy. Instead of teaching and coaching at the high-school level, he would go on to teach and coach Navy and Air Force pilots to fly fighter jets.

Prior to joining the 162nd in September 1988, he served eight years in the active duty Navy flying A-4s, F-5s and A-7 aircraft. The Tucson wing, which was flying A-7s at the time, offered Stroud the opportunity to return to Arizona.

"The Guard gave me a chance to continue flying after active duty, and it gave me a chance to settle down in Tucson where my wife was able to pursue her career," said the general.

Pennie Gillette-Stroud, also a Coconino High School graduate, and a graduate of Northern Arizona University, served 29 years with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and recently retired as the department's deputy director.

"Thanks to the Guard, we've had great careers," said General Stroud.

With the Navy, he said he "survived 100 night carrier landings on the U.S.S Midway" making him a Night Centurion. He graduated from both Navy and Air Force Fighter Weapons Schools, and he later commanded at both squadron and group levels in Tucson. His most recent command was with the 162nd Maintenance Group, a unit of about 800 aircraft mechanics and support personnel.

"Commanding the maintenance group here showed me that there was much more to my military universe than flying. It really opened my eyes," he said.

Today the general is in charge of roughly 1,450 Guardsmen who fly, maintain or support about 66 F-16s for a full-time training mission. He's responsible for producing capable pilots for the Air National Guard, Poland, Singapore, Norway, Pakistan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Over the last 20 years the Tucson wing has offered international training programs that range from an F-16 basic course to an advanced weapons course. The unit has produced nearly 2,000 graduates from 25 nations that fly the F-16.

In October 2009, the Air Force named General Stroud's wing as one of five possible locations for future F-35 Lightning II training. He says his new rank is simply a tool to help the wing navigate to a bright future.

"It just means I have more responsibility to the men and women of this wing who I consider to be my family away from home," said the general. "I will work hard for them to keep the unit in tact just as they have historically worked hard to earn the great reputation that the wing enjoys today. The F-35 is an important key to the future of the wing and the economic prosperity of our state."

Though his breadth of responsibility reaches all aspects of the wing mission, he's still an instructor pilot at heart.

"The older I get, the more I appreciate the joy of flying and teaching others how to fly. When I walk on the flightline and I smell the jet fuel it gives me shivers. It's an incredible job."