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NEWS | Dec. 4, 2008

Lackland welcomes new vice commander

By Mike Joseph 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

The paths of life always take twists and turns. Those curves in the road happen more to some than others.

For Col. Gregory Parsons, his 22-year Air Force career is marked with splits in the road that have led to opportunities.

"(My career) is not the normal career path," said Colonel Parsons, the new vice commander for the 37th Training Wing.

"It just kind of happened that way. It really was one of those things where I took advantage of opportunities that came along."

Colonel Parsons officially took the second-in-command post Friday when his predecessor, Col. Eric Wilbur, retired.

"I had quite a bit of overlap with Colonel Wilbur," said Colonel Parsons, who has been on base since August.

"He's a great guy and he'll be a hard act to follow. He was very nice and able to give me all kinds of hints and tell me a lot of the inside story on things I need know."

Colonel Parsons has had a diverse career in the Air Force before taking his current post.

The Montgomery, Ala., native has worked in manpower and organization, personnel and services. His assignments range from Hawaii to Virginia to Iraq.

Though his was not a planned career, he does have advice for today's Airmen.

"There's no one path to get where you want to be," the father of three teenaged boys said.

"Have your eyes open and look for those opportunities. That's one of the things I try to encourage in our younger folks."

He went on to say the military is one of the few careers where you can have a job, change to a completely different field and still retain your status without having to start over again.

"To me that's always been an exciting thing about the military," said Colonel Parsons.

"It gives you an opportunity to do a lot of different things. I've enjoyed it. I always told my wife I'd leave when it wasn't fun but it's always been fun. Next thing you know, you've been in 22 years. It goes by very quickly."

A graduate of Auburn University, Colonel Parsons possesses master's degrees in management information systems, military arts and sciences, and strategic studies. He completed the last one earlier this year at the Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

Having served in a number of leadership positions, Colonel Parsons firmly believes in communication.

"I'm a feedback guy," he said. "I'm going to give you honest feedback. I try to use it to teach people. I sit down with people, tell them what they're doing well, what they're not, and propose a plan to get better."

Colonel Parsons said his role as vice commander is to help Brig. Gen. Len Patrick, 37th TRW commander, realize his vision for the wing.

"He (General Patrick) has the vision. He tells the wing where we're going, and through me and the group commanders, we help guide, direct and shape the wing," he said.

"That's the role I play. We will go down the roads we need to and get that mission accomplished."

Colonel Parsons considers the scope of Lackland's mission, and its relationship with the local community amazing achievements.

"Everybody we bring in on tour is amazed at all the things that are going on here. And most of these people are familiar with the Air Force," he said.

"We have a great relationship with the city of San Antonio. I've never seen anything like it. It's going to be a great tour."