Following high school and college, Greg realized the challenges he wanted in life would be better found in the military. Flying had appealed to him from an early age and the Army seemed to provide the easiest path. The Army Warrant Officer Flight School program offered the incentive he needed, with a better chance of being accepted for flight school once he was on active duty.
After Basic Training, Advanced Infantry Training, and Parachute Jump School, Greg was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. On his seventh parachute jump and the first with his new unit - a battalion mass drop at night - he broke his right ankle. Undeterred, he was back on full duty in six weeks and again jumping out of airplanes.
The six week recovery provided a useful opportunity, allowing time for finalizing his flight packet application. Training and deployments continued while waiting for an answer - a process which seemed to drag on indefinitely.
During his time in the 82nd, he participated with his company in the Marine Corps Amphibious Assault Course, Army wide training exercises involving parachute assaults at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Fort Hood, Texas, and a number of jumps and exercises at Fort Bragg.
The physical and training demands of the elite parachute Division were appealing to Greg. He enjoyed the challenges of the unit, intending to stay on and apply for Special Forces if his flight packet was denied. Almost a year passed before he was accepted for the Warrant Officer Flight Training program at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
All enlisted applicants during the beginning phase of Rotary Wing Flight School attended a four-week Warrant Officer Candidate Development Course. Only after graduating from WOCD did flight training occur, beginning with daily flights in the TH-55 helicopter and classroom instruction during Primary Phase. This was followed by transition into the UH-1 “Huey” for advanced flight training and instrument instruction during the Junior Phase, and finally advanced tactical training in the UH-1, OH-58 or AH-1 during Senior Phase. Graduates could also transition into additional aircraft at a later date, either in house with their assigned unit or back at Fort Rucker, depending on the particular aircraft and model.
The author’s first assignment after graduation was at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. Greg flew UH-1s for a year before transitioning into the OH-58A scout helicopter. While stationed at Hunter Army Airfield he also met his future wife, Elizabeth.
Greg's next assignment was in Germany, where he flew both UH-1s and OH-58s throughout West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as several support missions to France and Great Britain. Passengers often varied from low ranking soldiers to four- star generals, with civilians and government officials occasionally mixed in.
Flights in the Bavarian Alps and across the English Channel were particularly enjoyable. His last mission before being reassigned stateside wasflying in support of an international military parachute competition on the island of Texel, Holland, where he helped the Dutch set two military precision free fall records.
His third assignment - to his home state of Alaska flying from Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks - was one of his most memorable. Daily flights throughout Alaska in a diversity of weather and terrain were the norm. It was there he also began researching Alaska’s multitude of aviation accidents after seeing and investigating several wreckage sites. Most were scattered or burned out hulks in the several military training areas near Fairbanks, but the numerous mountains, glaciers and river valleys provided a good share of other crash sites.
Greg also participated in the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill cleanup on the south-central coast of Alaska, flying as an OH-58 pilot on temporary duty with the U.S. Coast Guard, based in Homer. Daily flights were conducted along the outer coast as far east as the Pye Islands and west to the Alaska Peninsula, monitoring the spill's movement and verifying cleanup operations.
The author's next assignment was as an Instructor Pilot and Standardization Instructor Pilot in Louisiana training the unit's pilots and aerial observers, where Greg enjoyed sharing his experience and flight techniques.
The battalion trained extensively with AH-64 attack helicopters at Fort Hood, Texas, but the first Gulf War ended before the unit was deployed. The older generation scout helicopter was not a good match with the newer attack helicopter, but what the OH-58 Kiowa lacked in performance and technical capability was made up for with pilot skill and determination. Unfortunately, within months after the Gulf War ended, the OH-58 A and C models were being phased out of the Army inventory, leaving Greg without his former career track for advancement, but the choice of another aircraft transition.
Wanting to return to Alaska, Greg requested a transition into UH-60 Blackhawks, which were replacing the older generation UH-1s, and volunteered for an overseas assignment to Korea. The unaccompanied tour provided a follow-on assignment back to Fort Wainwright, Alaska. Although his flying duty in Korea was limited while serving as a Flight Operations Officer, the position helped him achieve promotion.
Upon his return to Alaska, Greg initially served as a UH-1 Platoon Leader due to an overabundance of UH-60 pilots and under abundance of lieutenant grade commissioned officers.
When the unit was deactivated a year later, he served as a pilot and Flight Operations Officer with a medical detachment flying UH-1s. (Regular Army and National Guard units in Alaska were some of the last Army units to transition from UH-1 to UH-60 helicopters).
Greg finished the last three years of his career assigned as a Material Management Officer and Fight Operations Officer before retiring from active service.