Wing bids farewell to base's big personalities, 75 years of combined service

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andria J. Allmond
  • 111th ATKW Public Wings

Members of the 111th Attack Wing offered their farewells to two esteemed colleagues Jan. 10, in the wing headquarters building here.

Lt. Col. (ret.) Scott "Spartacus" Hreso, former 111th ATKW chief of safety, and Lt. Col. (ret.) Preston Smith, former 111th ATKW medical administrative officer, were honored and publically retired from Air National Guard service in a ceremony held amongst family, friends and fellow service members.

"A lot of large personalities are starting to retire here," the 111th ATKW Commander Col. Howard L. "Chip" Eissler playfully said to the crowd of approximately 240 attendees. "I hope it's not me chasing them out.

"These men had the ear of a lot of people on this base; they did a lot of mentoring on life, offered career advice, touched a lot of people and they will be missed."

Beginning his career as a leatherneck in 1978 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. in the role of a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II aircraft mechanic, Hreso entered Air National Guard service in 1982. The Pennsylvania ANG gained him in 1986 as an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot.

Hreso had a profession occupied by many missions, deployments and even a successful ejection from an A-10 during a training mission. He ended his 36-year career on Dec. 31 with mixed feelings.

"Retirement was like pulling that (ejection handle)," said Hreso. "At first I felt like I was giving up. But I had to let go, or go down (with the aircraft). Retirement is the same thing; it's relinquishing control."

Inversely, he continued by expressing gratefulness.

"So, while the actual retirement is letting go, the retirement ceremony is about gratitude. There is so much gratitude from me. I want to thank all of you for sharing my life with me. I can look at all of you out there (in the audience) and have a story to tell about each of you."

Smith retired from the wing with 39 years of service. He enlisted in the active-duty Air Force in 1975 and started his career in 1976 as a nuclear weapons systems specialist. In 1986, the wing acquired Smith as a personnel specialist with the 111th Mission Support Group here.

During the ceremony, Lt. Col. John Quinn, 111th Medical Group commander, spoke about his time in service with Smith.

"A lot of times we had would all tap into (Smith's) wealth of experience," said Quinn. "And he'd always answer the same way, 'What would the (Air Force Instruction) say?'"

Quinn continued praising Smith, reflecting on the positive impact that was felt by his service.

"(Smith) was always there to help and guide us over the years. No matter what had to get finished, he kept us on point," he said.

Paula Smith, his wife, also earned accolades from Quinn for her service to the unit and wing. She received a certificate of appreciation during the event.

During his speech to the jam-packed auditorium, Smith ended by supplying the audience with what he described as sage advice that he used throughout his military career.

"(Some) of the most important words I want to leave you regards counseling troops: First, get the facts. Second, do it when you're calm and third, do it in private.

"Lastly, I'd like to finish with from a passage from the (Espistle of) James: Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger."

Combined, Smith and Hreso gave the military a distinguished 75 years of service. While the effectiveness of their labor can be gauged in many ways, Hreso described to the addressees how he would like his service remembered.

"Gauge me, and what I stand for, by looking at my kids. They represent my service; and I couldn't be more proud."