Airman Spotlight: Col. Ed Black
By Capt. Sean Navarro, 139th Airlift Wing
/ Published January 05, 2021
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. --
While working a high school job harvesting produce near St. Joseph, now-Col. Ed Black saw C-130 Hercules aircraft flying over and immediately knew he wanted to become a pilot.
“I was working in the fields and saw them performing maneuvers and it looked really cool,” Black said. “I joined the 139th Airlift Wing’s security forces while I went to college and applied for a pilot slot as soon as I graduated.”
Watching the aircraft fly overhead was only the beginning. Most of Black’s 32 years in the military has been with the 139th, but he said that one of the most meaningful moments in his career was being able to serve as the wing’s commander.
“I have a sense of loyalty to the Wing because it gave me the opportunity to do things,” Black said. “I hope other kids will see the C-130s flying overhead and be inspired to join just as I did.”
Alongside his pride in serving with the 139th, Black recognized and acknowledged the ability to contribute to the mission throughout his career. From being enlisted in security forces, to getting his commission to become a pilot, to his positions with the National Guard Bureau, and coming back to the wing, he has always been proud to be part of something bigger than himself.
“Anyone who chooses a life in the military choses to identify with our values, culture, our nation,” Black said. “When you choose that identity, that means you agree to the responsibility, sacrifice and higher standards that comes along with it. Over a long career, it gives guideposts to how to live. Being an Airman, at the end of it all, you have a lot of pride serving your country, and that is true patriotism. You can be proud to be an American, but being a servicemember, it means so much more.”
If he could turn back time and do it all over again, Black said he would deploy with his fellow servicemembers.
“I would never want another war just to have the experience of deploying again,” Black said, “but nothing else can compare to the camaraderie that is developed when we come together to defend our constitution and nation against our adversaries.”
On a local level, Black also talked about the success of our democratic process in terms of protecting our way of life against foreign threats, specifically talking about the levee project that has been in the works since the flood of 1993.
“I’ve never seen my service as separate from the community,” Black said. “Our base had the opportunity to work with local, state and national partners who all had an interest in helping the people they serve. Our representative government allowed us to get the expertise, buy-in, coordination and funding needed to ensure that this project came to fruition.”
Although his service is taking him on to other leadership roles outside of the 139th, part of him will always be with the 139th.
“The 139th has been a family for me for 32 years,” Black said. “It has been an honor to have the opportunity for such a long career, and it is something I don’t take lightly. I cherish all the relationships I have been able to forge. At the end of the day, I’m left with a bag full of memories with friends and colleagues and the amazing things we did together. That will always be at the front of my mind.”