BHS grad speaks at military celebration

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 21, 2009

When the U.S. Air Force celebrated its 62nd birthday on Friday,it called on a young Brookhavenite to stand before the more than5,000 servicemen stationed at Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield andspeak from his heart.

Airman 1st Class Gregory Walker, 21, took the podium to speakabout the past and future of the military’s newest branch, formedin 1947, which is playing a leading role in the War on Terror.Walker, the son of Brookhaven’s Gregory Walker and Laurie Muellerof Rhinelander, Wis., is a 2007 graduate of Brookhaven High School.Walker also has a brother, Joshua, and sister, Tianna, and otherrelatives in Rhinelander.

“The better question is not why we joined the Air Force, butrather why we stay,” Walker said Friday during his speech. “We staybecause of each other. We go to work with dedicated professionalswith shared values, values that transcend the service. So, I can’tspeak for everyone, but I’d rather be here right now with all ofyou, fellow airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines, than any otherplace in the world.”

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The elder Walker said his son told him in July he was preparinga speech for the USAF’s birthday celebration, but he did notdisclose the magnitude of the event.

“I didn’t know it was going to be in front of 5,000, or thathe’d been selected to do it,” he said. “I’m just ecstatic.”

Walker said his son was an outstanding student at BHS, and oneof the leaders in his church, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.The younger Walker attended Copiah-Lincoln Community College forone year before leaving school to join the USAF.

“I was extremely proud of him,” Walker said. “I went to hisgraduation from boot camp at Lackland Air Force Base (San Antonio,Texas), and he was a group leader there, too – he stood out. He’sworking toward going to the academy (Colorado Springs, Colo.). He’sgot to get some recommendation letters.”