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Cutchogue man becomes second combat rescue officer to attain rank of colonel at 106th Rescue Wing

May 26, 2022, was a significant day in the life of Glyn Weir. His promotion from lieutenant colonel to colonel in the New York Air National Guard was approved by the United States Senate that day.

It was also the same day his father, Gregory, 74, died.

“My father was very, very proud of everything that I did,” Colonel Weir told The Suffolk Times. “He would brag about me and was extremely proud of it when I became an officer, when I became a combat rescue officer and then, of course, when I became a squadron commander, that was another big thing for him.”

Shortly before his father died, though, Colonel Weir had more news his dad could be proud about. He told him that his promotion package was on the Senate floor, awaiting approval. “They say he could hear me,” said the colonel.

Later, Colonel Weir said, “I had just left the nursing home and was driving home and realized I was just promoted.”

Recounting that tough day isn’t easy. Nor is discussing the pride the Cutchogue man’s wife, Michelle, and children, Leah, 16, and Luke, 15, undoubtedly feel about the high rank he has attained. “I get emotional if I think about it, so I try not to think about that,” he said.

Here is something to think about: The promotion of Colonel Weir, the 106th Rescue Wing’s Mission Support Group commander since May 2021, holds historical significance. He became only the second combat rescue officer to achieve the rank of colonel at the unit, which is based at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach. The first is the 106th Rescue Wing commander, Col. Shawn Fitzgerald, according to Major Michael O’Hagan. Col. Fitzgerald, who became the 106th commander in 2020, also lives in Cutchogue.

“Honestly, you know, I try not to think about that,” said Colonel Weir, 52, whose promotion was marked by a June 14 ceremony at Gabreski. He added, “I’m lucky to have been in the positions that I’ve been in and I never considered myself owed or entitled to anything.”

Col. Weir surveys the flood waters engulfing Houston, Texas during rescue operations on Aug. 30, 2017. (Credit: Air National Guard/A1C Daniel Farrell)

Colonel Weir, who grew up in Warwick, R.I., holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Excelsior College and a master’s degree in homeland security from American Military University. In 1992, he enlisted in the Air Force. “I wanted to test myself to the max,” he said.

Colonel Weir said the Air Force offered the best option for him. He said: “I could be jumping out of planes a few months after joining the service … I was 22 when I joined, so I wanted that test right away and I wanted to get my career moving.”

Colonel Weir served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has deployed over a dozen times. Also, he has been involved in domestic operations during hurricanes and other rescue missions as well as supporting NASA in its planned return to human spaceflight.

Major O’Hagan said, “Hearing his story just inspires people.” Colonel Weir, he said, is “absolutely everything you want an American colonel in the United States military to be.”

Colonel Fitzgerald met Colonel Weir when they were serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan. “Weir selflessly helped me become a [combat rescue officer],” Colonel Fitzgerald said in a New York National Guard press release. “Weir was a team player, and he knew the best thing for any organization was to get qualified and talented people.”

It was by mere happenstance that Colonel Weir didn’t leave the military while based with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. He and his wife wanted to start a family.

Col. Weir at the June 14 ceremony with his family. (Credit: Air National Guard)

“I think I was on the road 270 to 300 days a year,” he said, “so I was actually looking at moving to a different position in the squadron where I was stationed in North Carolina, and she said, ‘You can do that, but this isn’t going to work.’ ”

Around that time, in 2003, a friend from the 106th Rescue Wing called and asked if he would be interested in coming to New York for a more family-friendly post. “I came up, and she loved the North Fork,” Colonel Weir said of his wife.

They bought a house in Mattituck in 2004 before moving to Cutchogue in 2013.

“There hasn’t been a moment in my entire military career that I haven’t felt extremely lucky,” Colonel Weir said. He continued: “If my friend hadn’t called me out of the blue to say, ‘Hey, what do you think about coming to New York?’ I wouldn’t be here.”

He said, “Sometimes we just wind up doing what we were meant to do.”