174th Attack Wing's Richardson Selected to Become ANG Service Liaison Officer
By Senior Airman Duane Morgan, 174th Attack Wing
/ Published February 12, 2013
Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York -- The 174th Attack Wing will be saying farewell to one of its members in April as he begins a new chapter in his career.
Major Gary Richardson, Equal Opportunity Director for the 174th Attack Wing, will become the service liaison officer for the Air National Guard component at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.
Once there, he will run the Equal Opportunity program as an extension of the National Guard Bureau. The job is a logical progression for Richardson, since he helped develop the program for anyone coming into the Equal Opportunity Field. "It's a joint services position," said Richardson. "I'll be working closely with the Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force, Army and all DOD employees."
Richardson has come a long way in his career. He came in as an enlisted member and rose through the enlisted ranks to become an officer later in his career. Becoming the second African American to accomplish this at the 174th.
Richardson, from Painesville, Ohio, wanted to join the military since childhood. "I had two older brothers in the Army. They tried to get me to join the Army and I told them I was going to try the Air Force," said Richardson.
Not everyone in the Richardson family was happy with his decision to join the Armed Forces.
"My parents didn't want me to join the military at all," said Richardson. "They wanted me to be the first to attend college, so that's what I did."
After attending college he joined the active duty Air Force as a Civil Engineering troop and was stationed at Griffis Air Force Base in Rome, New York.
He left active duty to join the Air National Guard and was initially stationed at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Scotia, New York.
He then joined the 174th in May of 1995 and stayed with the same career in Civil Engineering.
It wasn't until after he attended human relations training that he would become involved in the Equal Opportunity career field.
"I answered a majority of the questions during the class as well as explained a lot of things that had to do with diversity to the class," said Richardson. "Afterwards Lt. Col. Mark Brady pulled me to the side and asked where I worked. I told him CE and he said I think you're in the wrong career field. You should try Equal Opportunity."
Lt. Col. Brady brought him into the EO career field and mentored him into becoming an officer. "Had it not been for Lt. Col. Brady, I wouldn't be here," said Richardson.
Three years after receiving his degree in Criminal Justice, Richardson became a commissioned officer.
Immediately after completing the six-week Equal Opportunity course, Richardson was selected to be an instructor. He has been an instructor since being selected in 2004.
In the course of eight years Richardson has gone from student to instructor to running the EO program. He gives a lot of the credit to his mentor and the leadership at the 174th.
"Hancock Field has without a doubt the best leadership I've ever seen," said Richardson. "They understand what it means to allow their people to do their jobs."
Richardson also credits the 174th for helping him grow both socially and professionally. "The cultivation of leadership is head and shoulders above anything I've seen out there in my time on active duty as well as a guardsman," said Richardson.
Leaving the 174th was a tough decision for Richardson, but he feels it was time to move on in his career.
"No matter where I go, no matter what position I hold, I will always be a member of the 174th in my heart," said Richardson. "This is where I was allowed to fulfill my dreams."
For younger airmen who are looking to going down a similar path, Richardson had this to say. "If you have a thought in your mind of something you want to accomplish and it only comes to you at night while you're asleep, you need to wake up and make it happen or else you'll just be dreaming. The 174th allowed me to wake up. I'm grateful for it and will always be grateful for it."