Saying good bye after 35 years of service

HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SYRACUSE, NEW YORK -- Thirty-five years ago, Chief Master Sgt. Mark started his journey in the Air Force.

It all began when Mark was nineteen years old and was clueless as to what he wanted to do with his life. He made the decision to enlist in the active-duty component of the Air Force. 

By the luck of the draw, Mark got the opportunity to be stationed in Germany as an F-15 Strike Eagle crew chief.

After 3 years in Germany, Mark received orders to Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. Upon his arrival, he immediately applied to retrain. His application was accepted and within a year's time, he was off to become a flight line avionics technician.

As a flight line avionics technician, Mark got stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. After finishing 8 years of service on active-duty, Mark decided to call it quits and relocated back to his roots in New York.

While back in New York, Mark made a visit to Hancock Air National Guard Base with a recruiter and visited the avionics shop.

"Within five minutes of walking into the avionics shop, a guy asked if I was looking for a job," Mark said.

As a fully trained Airman with experience, his expertise was desired. Before he knew it, Mark had a full time Air National Guard spot.

Over the years, Mark stuck with the 174th despite switching jobs various times. To him, the most rewarding part is the sense of accomplishment.

"It's a huge sense of accomplishment," he said. "Every day is a different challenge."

During his time with the unit, Mark has had various opportunities to deploy and travel abroad on temporary duty assignments (TDY). These TDYs included everything from South Africa and the Middle East to Norway and Denmark.

The decades spent at the 174th Attack Wing (ATKW) didn't go unmarked by Mark. He volunteered in various capacities including projects such as helping re-establish the club and the restoring static displays on base.

"Being involved in a lot of projects keeps it from getting boring," he said.

Before departing the 174th ATKW, Mark left the Airmen of the base with some words of wisdom.

"Don't be so closed minded, go out and try different things," said Mark. "See if you can make it a little bit better and enjoy Hancock, it's a great place to be."