The people's voice of reason

Honoring Our Heroes

Col Denny Rea: age 70

On September 11, 2001, Col Denny Rea was stationed at Luke Air Force Base, AZ, as the commander in charge of 10,000 US Air Force personnel while the Wing commander was away, as the disastrous events of that day unfolded on the east coast. He saw his teams react as they had been trained which was to load aircraft with weapons, fly 24-hour air patrols over the southwestern United States, work with the City of Glendale for local security, rapidly set-up an off-base dispensary for life-saving medications for the elderly in the turmoil, coordinate with the North American Defense (NORAD) command for national directives and work with the FBI’s anti-terrorism task force to prevent further incidents or damage. Col Rea states, “This was a sober time, but one of the culminations of a career in military service that made me proud.”

Colonel Denny Rea served 30 years in the U.S. Air Force. His Air Force Service Code (AFSC) included: (1) Command Fighter Pilot for 25 years, (2) OPS Commander for two years and (3) Academic Program Manager for three years. Among his awards were the following: Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster (OLC), Meritorious Service Medal with four OLCs, Meritorious Unit Award with two OLCs, AF Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Air Medal with OLC, Aerial Achievement Medal with three OLCs, Combat Readiness Medal with three OLCs, National Defense Service Medal with Service Star, Southwest Asia Service Medal with Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

Col Rea was born January 1954 in Austin, TX, to his parents, Jim and Ann Rea. His father served as a P-47 pilot during WWII in the Pacific Theater. Col Rea was active in the Boy Scouts and earned the rank of Eagle Scout and was a member of the Order of the Arrow. In high school, Col Rea played football, ran track and played in the concert and jazz bands. He graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in 1972.

Col Rea entered the U.S. Air Force Academy July 3, 1972, ran inter-collegiate hurdles in track, completed U.S. and British parachute jump schools and the Air Force Survival School and qualified in the T-41 aircraft. He graduated on June 2, 1976, with a BS Degree in Management and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Air Force.

Col Rea’s active-duty military service began with pilot training at Vance Air Force Base (AFB), OK from 1976-1977. His assignments included: (1) Holloman AFB, NM, for fighter lead-in training, 1977, (2) MacDill AFB, FL, for F-4Dfighter training, 1978, (3) Kunsan AB, Korea, as an operational F-4D fighter pilot & flight lead, 1978-1979, (4) Nellis AFB, NV, as an F-4D and then F-16A flight lead, instructor, test pilot and flight evaluator, 1979-1983, (5) Luke AFB, AZ, as an F-16A instructor pilot, flight evaluator and flight commander, 1983-1987, (6) Randolph AFB, TX, on the Fighter Personnel Assignments staff, 1987-1990, (7) Maxwell AFB, AL, Air Command & Staff College, 1990-1991, (8) Spangdahlem AB, Germany, as an F-16C Operations Officer and Squadron Commander, 1991-1997, (9) Tucson AFB, AZ, 12th Air Force Inspector General Director of Inspections, 1997-1999, (10) Mountain Home AFB, ID, Operations Group Commander 1999-2000, Kusan AB, Korea, F16C Wing Vice Commander, 2000-2001, (11) Luke AB, AZ, F16C Wing Vice Commander, 2001-2003, and (12) Maxwell AFB, AL, as an Air War College Associate Professor and Command Chair for Air Combat Command, 2003-2006.

Col Rea’s 30-year military service spanned across all major theaters of operation. He completed two remote tours in Korea and spent over five combined years in Europe and the Middle East. While serving, Col Rea earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Golden Gate University and graduated from Professional Military Education (PME) courses including Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College. He also completed the Nuclear Instructors Course at Sandia Laboratories, USAF Europe Commanders Course, Senior Commander Leadership Training, Senior Leaders Maintenance Course, and the USAF Accident Board President Course.

Col Rea served as the Director of Inspections for the 12th Air Force Inspector General, commanded America’s only true composite flying group with B-1, KC-135, F-15A, F-15C and F-16C aircraft & maintenance teams, as the Air University Command Chair for the Air Combat Command where he instructed at the Air War College and led two senior officer delegations to the People’s Republic of China. Col Rea completed his military career with 3,500 fighter hours including 300 combat hours over Iraq and Bosnia. Col Rea retired from military service in 2006.

Col Rea then worked as a Senior Project Manager and Consultant for 17 years primarily in the “learning technology” industry upgrading federal government training courses to interactive and immersive learning methods in new modalities. These efforts enhanced the progress by the younger generations who are "wired" to learn by interactivity, digital awareness, and online situational problem solving vs. his generation's reading and highlighting books or PowerPoint briefings.

Col Rea worked 10 years for Vertex Solutions which was later named Adayana and based out of Falls Church, VA. His projects included creating innovative learning products for AETC agencies such as the Culture & Language Center and the Air Force Negotiation Center of Excellence at Maxwell AFB, developing a “Future of Learning” blueprint for HQ AETC, creating voice-activated situational courses for the Defense Language Institute and developing interactive virtual scenarios for the Department of Defense Fire Academy. He also directed projects to develop e-learning courses for the U.S. Postal Service, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Center for Credibility Assessments (Polygraph School). Col Rea worked with the State Department to create Anti-Terrorism Training modules for teams traveling to over 50 countries worldwide and with EUROPOL to combat international virtual

After Vertex Solutions, Col Rea continued with independent consulting for various companies including Blue Force, Mesmo, Inc., Betis Corp., and Community Force, continuing to develop new content and designs for diverse learning delivery formats. Rea joined with Datum Software, Inc. in 2018 to assist on an Air University (AU) Project at Maxwell AFB to build a new Learning Management System for AU’s colleges and schools. He ended his career on a project with the Bureau of Indian Education writing policy and providing solutions for Indian K-12 schools in over 26 states. Col Rea retired from full-time employment in June 2023.

Col Rea and his wife, Trudy, have been married 41 years, and have lived in Montgomery since 2003. They have two children and two grandchildren. They are members of Frazer Methodist Church where he teaches adult Sunday School and serves with the Prison Ministry Program and the Men’s Leadership Council. He is active in the community through the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, Wright Flyers Association military support group and the Air Force Association. He enjoys playing golf, biking, swimming, and reading.

Col Rea comments on his military service: “It was a fantastic time to serve as a fighter pilot in the Air Force. I gained a lifelong family of friends in the military and from many other countries. The flying was fantastic, with many hours spent over northern Iraq and over Bosnia-Herzegovina. I had some amazing personal experiences such as: (1) Attending Turkish and German weddings, (2) drinking strong coffee in a shepherd’s tent in the Israeli countryside and discussing world events with Arab and Jewish men simultaneously, (3) having long conversations with Turkish friends on big piles of handmade rugs, (4) playing with Korean orphans during Christmas in South Korea, (5) attending a formal dinner in a former Nazi bunker in Denmark, (6) leading the Air Force contingent in the Patton Day Parade in Luxembourg, (7) flying with pilots from more than 20 countries, (8) engaging in senior-level discussions with Chinese military, academic, and government leaders and (9) administering the Air Force oath of office at my daughter’s commissioning to name a few.

Col Rea states, “People don’t need to remember me. They just need to pass the torch of values and lessons for a path to follow Jesus Christ which was passed to me. And remember, those who desire the peace the most are those who must go out and defend it.”


Reader Comments(0)