By 1st Lt. Brett Decker, 174th Attack Wing
/ Published June 12, 2016
HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SYRACUSE, N.Y. --
New York Air National Guard Col. Greg Semmel, the former commander of the 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse, New York, was promoted to brigadier general during a ceremony at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Friday, June 10.
Maj. Gen. Anthony German, the Adjutant General (TAG) of the State of New York, was the presiding official for the promotion.
"He's going to do a great job for the state," German said. "My charter to him is to go down to the NGB and work RPA issues, work the F-16 issues, and work the issues that need to be worked at the National Guard."
Semmel's new assignment will be the Assistant TAG - Air for the New York National Guard. In his new role, Semmel will serve as an advisor to the TAG on matters concerning the more than 5,000 Airmen of the New York Air National Guard.
Semmel spoke on his thoughts about moving forward in his new position at the New York Air National Guard Headquarters.
"I plan to be an advocate for the wings, the sector at EADS, and the geographically separated units across New York State and beyond," Semmel said. "I need to understand what their challenges are, understand what their strengths and weaknesses are."
Both German and Semmel agreed that in order for him to have arrived at this position, it took more than any one person's efforts to make it happen.
"The way I view it is, this is not a promotion for an individual officer, it's a promotion for an organization," said Semmel. "It's a reflection to the credit of the men and women of Hancock Field."
German noted that although Semmel's resume showed that he had accomplished a ton of things throughout his career, his success was strongly due to the continued support that he had received from his family and friends.
Serving as Wing Commander from March of 2012 to April of 2016, Semmel was responsible for the more than 1,200 military personnel assigned to Hancock Field, supporting MQ-9 operations, the MQ-9 Formal Training Unit, MQ-9 Field Training Detachment, and three geographically separated units.
As commander, Semmel played a key role in the effort to initiate MQ-9 flight operations at Hancock Field, culminating with the first remotely piloted aircraft flight from a shared military and civilian air field on Dec. 16, 2015. In addition to his duties as Wing Commander, Semmel acted as the Joint Task Force Commander for New York State Joint Operations Area 4.
The 174th Attack Wing was established in 1947 as the first Air National Guard flying unit in New York State. The 174th currently operates the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft, transitioning from the F-16C in 2009. In addition to MQ-9 operations, the wing also trains all MQ-9 maintenance technicians for the U.S. Air Force, and conducts qualification training for MQ-9 pilots and sensor operators.
In addition to the 174th Attack wing, the New York Air National Guard is comprised of:
· The 105th Airlift Wing, based outside Newburgh in the Hudson Valley which operates the C-17 and also mans the largest Security Forces Squadron in the Air National Guard;
· The 106th Rescue Wing, based at Westhampton Beach on Long Island, which flies the HH-60 Pavehawk rescue helicopter and the HH-130 search and rescue aircraft;
· The 107th Airlift wing based at Niagara Falls, which is transitioning from a C-130 mission to the MQ-9 mission;
· The 109th Airlift Wing, based outside Schenectady, which flies the LC-130 "Skibird" to the South Pole and in Greenland;
· And the Eastern Air Defense Sector in Rome, which is responsible for air defense east of the Mississippi and Washington D.C., as part of the North American Air Defense Command.
Semmel graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1986, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Leaving the Active Duty Air Force in 2000, Semmel joined the 174th Fighter Wing. He served in a number of roles prior to taking command of the wing including 138th Fighter Squadron Chief of Weapons and Tactics, 138th Fighter Squadron Director of Operations, 174th Operations Group, and 174th Fighter Wing Assistant Vice Commander.
He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Fighter Weapons Instructor Course, Squadron Officer Course, Air Command and Staff College, Air War, College, Joint Task Force Commander Training Course, Advanced Joint Professional Military Education, and the National Security Management Course at the Maxwell School.
Semmel is a command pilot with more than 4000 flying hours, with more than 125 combat missions supporting various operations to include Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom.
His awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
When asked about having the title general, Semmel simply said one word, "Wow!"