Turnbull Returns to SJU as AFROTC Commander
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
PHILADELPHIA (June 21, 2011) – Before leaving early to enlist in the United States Army, Greg Turnbull was a student at Saint Joseph's University from 1949-1951. During that time, a petition to bring a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) detachment onto campus was circulating throughout the student body. Turnbull signed the petition, helping to bring Air Force Detachment 750 to Saint Joseph's campus the very next year.
What Turnbull did not realize was the implications his signature would hold for his son more than 60 years later. "I always tell people, 'Thanks to my dad, I'm here'," says the newly assigned commander of Detachment 750, Lt. Col. Eric Turnbull, with a laugh. "Otherwise, there would have been no ROTC here at Saint Joseph's and obviously I wouldn't be here." A recipient of the Bronze Star Medal, Turnbull assumed command of the detachment on June 6 after the retirement of Lt. Col. Joan Fournier.
A 27-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Turnbull enlisted immediately following his graduation from high school in 1982. After serving nine years in the enlisted ranks as a tactical aircraft maintenance specialist, Turnbull decided to attend a two-year ROTC commissioning program at Troy State University in Troy, Ala. He was commissioned in 1993 and returned to active duty as an aircraft maintenance officer.
Turnbull's appointment as commander of Detachment 750 marks the beginning of his second stint at SJU. He previously worked at the detachment as an assistant professor of aerospace studies from 2002-2005.
"I loved it when I was here before, and knew I wanted to come back," says Turnbull. "It is a fantastic school, and we receive great support from the University. My prior assignment here was by far my best assignment in 27 years in the Air Force."
In addition to his time at Saint Joseph's, Turnbull has been stationed at Air Force bases domestically and internationally, and has deployed numerous times. His most recent deployment was to Iraq in 2009, where he served a one-year tour as an aircraft maintenance advisor to the Iraqi Air Force before returning to work at Robins Air Force base in Warner Robins, Ga.
Turnbull hopes to bring that leadership experience abroad to the cadets at the detachment. "Throughout my career I've worked with Air Force officers from various countries including Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco, Japan, Korea England, and Romania," he says. "I would like to bring that experience, at least the cultural aspect of it, to the cadets, because the world we live in today is so dependent on international cooperation. Our military works hand-in-hand with different countries every day."
Although he is only a few weeks into his assignment, Turnbull has high standards for the detachment moving forward.
"I want to be the premier commissioning source in the Philadelphia area," he says. "The Army has ROTC units, the Navy has ROTC units, but I want us to be the gold standard of ROTC in Philadelphia."