Richey joins ranks of CHS AFJROTC
By Ryan Horton
After 13 years with the Choctaw High School Air Force Junior ROTC program, retired United States Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Walter Kula Jr. has retired from his teaching position at Choctaw High School.
School officials have found a qualified replacement to join retired USAF Colonel Kevin Jones at the helm of the Yellowjackets’ prestigious AFJRTOC program in retired USAF Chief Master Sergeant George Richey.
Chief Richey has had an eventful career in the USAF and is excited to settle down and help the CHS program continue improving.
“This is a dream come true for me. Not only do I get to teach JROTC students, but I get to do it in Oklahoma where my wife and her family is from and where my family is retired at. My family is in Lawton and her family is still in Stroud so we’re right in between them,” said Richey.
“When I start in August, that will be the first time I’m actually a fulltime JROTC instructor. But I’ve been involved with the program. My son is actually a four-year JROTC product. He spent two years at two different JROTC units, and I worked with them and helped with inspections.”
Richey joined the Air Force right out of high school, and spent 27 years serving the country through various missions. Now he’s excited to use his life experiences to help develop the future through positive mentorship of teenagers at Choctaw High School.
His functional background includes duties in the fuels management career field. He has served at the tactical, operational, and strategic leadership levels with positions at the flight, squadron, and headquarters Air Force levels, as well as in a special duty assignment as Master Instructor, fuels ap prentice and advanced courses. Outside of the fuels management career field, he has served as a squadron superintendent in three different units, a mission support group superintendent, a logistics readiness group superintendent, and most recently as a Wing Command Chief Master Sergeant. His service includes assignments in Alabama, California, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington D.C., South Carolina, as well as overseas in Korea, Portugal and Alaska. Finally, he has deployed in support of Operations NOBLE ANVIL/ALLIED FORCE and as a ministry-level combat advisor and senior enlisted leader supporting Operation NEW DAWN.
“I joined right out of high school, and actually celebrated my 18th birthday in training. When I started my job was refueling aircraft. From that there’s a lot of jobs you can branch out into. Predominantly what I did was drive a refueling unit and storing fuel. The first taste I got of a classroom environment was as a technical school instructor. I was training them right of basic training on how to do my job. I did that for four years,” explained Richey.
“I followed that up with a stint at the Pentagon. That’s everyone’s dream that serves in the military, getting a position at the Pentagon. There I worked on policy for my career field, fuels. In between there I did a year in Korea and some time in Altus. That’s where I met my wife. She’s actually a Stroud alumna. I took the family to a tiny island off of Portugal for two years, which is where my family got a taste of what overseas living is like. We did three years in South Carolina, but one of those years I was deployed to Iraq. I did an assignment in Alaska, and then ended up in Alabama for another classroom job. This time I was teaching new Chiefs. Every time someone is promoted to Chief Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force they come up to a base in Maxwell for a class. That was my second taste of being on a podium. Somewhere in between there I started experiencing what JROTC was about. I was invited to Alaska to speak to a JRTOC unit there. I had never dealt with kids at that age level before, but they were very receptive. That’s when I decided when I retire that working with children in the JROTC program is where I want to end up.”
He had been serving as the course director, group superintendent course and as a lecturer at the Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Academy, Maxwell-Gunter Annex, Alabama, where he instructed the pinnacle level of enlisted professional military education.
Now he’s ready to focus on high school education.
Richey officially retired from the USAF in October with hopes of transitioning into an AFJROTC instructor role.
“I’ve been wearing this uniform since I was 17 so the thought of retiring and going to do something else never really crossed my mind. When I did a speaking engagement in Alaska that’s really when I knew I wanted to do some mentorship and share some life stories with these young kids. Being able to still put this uniform on every day and work with some smart kids really makes my heart warm. This is where I want to be,” said Richey.
“There aren’t very many of these jobs that come open, and this was the number one program that I wanted to be in.”
Chief Richey and his wife Rachel have a son, Dylan, who serves in the Air Force (A1C), and a daughter, Kylee, attending Troy University seeking a degree in elementary education.