News

Face of Defense: Airman's Commitment to Service Runs in the Family

June 30, 2017 | BY Spc. Chelsea Baker, South Carolina Army National Guard

“Service to others is what makes this country great,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, the public affairs superintendent for the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base here. His 31 years of service is a testament to his commitment to serve his country.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, with the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing, stands with his son, 2nd Lt. Michael Snyder, assigned to the Carolina Army National Guard’s Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, near a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, S.C., June 13, 2017. The senior Snyder's example of service to others inspired his son to join the National Guard and become a Black Hawk pilot. South Carolina Army National Guard photo by Spc. Chelsea Baker
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, with the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing, stands with his son, 2nd Lt. Michael Snyder, assigned to the Carolina Army National Guard’s Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, near a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, S.C., June 13, 2017. The senior Snyder's example of service to others inspired his son to join the National Guard and become a Black Hawk pilot. South Carolina Army National Guard photo by Spc. Chelsea Baker
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, with the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing, stands with his son, 2nd Lt. Michael Snyder, assigned to the Carolina Army National Guard’s Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, near a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, S.C., June 13, 2017. The senior Snyder's example of service to others inspired his son to join the National Guard and become a Black Hawk pilot. South Carolina Army National Guard photo by Spc. Chelsea Baker
A Father’s Encouragement to Serve
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, with the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing, stands with his son, 2nd Lt. Michael Snyder, assigned to the Carolina Army National Guard’s Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, near a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, S.C., June 13, 2017. The senior Snyder's example of service to others inspired his son to join the National Guard and become a Black Hawk pilot. South Carolina Army National Guard photo by Spc. Chelsea Baker
Photo By: Spc. Chelsea Baker
VIRIN: 170613-Z-GU920-001

Snyder enlisted in 1985 and spent four years on active duty. He then served six years with the Air Force Reserve and deployed several times, including in support of operations Just Cause, Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Snyder joined the South Carolina Air National Guard in 1994.

“I always wanted to join the military; I just did not know why. I wanted to do something different and I wanted to serve,” he said.

A commitment to service is a family tradition. Snyder’s wife, Michelle, serves as an elementary school teacher and supports a number of projects as a church volunteer. His daughter, Ashley, is a surgical technician. She has been a patient care provider since graduating high school in 2008, and said she feels privileged to take care of people in their time of medical need. Snyder’s son, Michael, joined the South Carolina Army National Guard upon graduating from high school in 2010 and completed the UH-60 Black Hawk pilot training program in August 2016.

Community Service

“I think it’s important for every American to serve in one capacity or another, whether as a public servant, first responder, medical professional or serving your community through church and volunteer programs,” Snyder said.

Serving the community is more than just an act of kindness in the Snyder family; it’s their way of life and a responsibility they continue to fulfill each and every day.

“I am so very proud of my family and the sacrifices they make to support me during my years of military service,” Snyder said. “It’s even more humbling to me to see them recognize their individual callings to serve and to watch them do so unselfishly.”

In 1991, three months into a deployment, Snyder got the call that he was going to be a father again.

“Michael was a surprise baby,” he added.

Little did he know his son would grow up to follow in his footsteps. Growing up, Snyder would tell his children that while they may not decide to join the military, they will serve others in some way.

Inspiration

“I always wanted to serve, which came from my father. Dad’s tough love molded me for the military and made the transition easier,” said Army 2nd Lt. Michael Snyder, an UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot for the South Carolina Army National Guard's Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment.

Snyder would take his son on trips to McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, where he would learn about the fighter jets. Snyder didn’t push the Air Force on Michael, but he knew his son wanted to be a pilot. Michael elected to pursue becoming a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot.

“I knew that I wanted to be a pilot, and my father encouraged me to join the National Guard. They helped me pay for some of my college at the Citadel and led me to become a pilot,” Michael said.

Now that Michael has qualified as a Black Hawk pilot, he said he has a deeper understanding of the work his father has done over the years.

“Serving made my little boy into a man and do something I could never do myself; [learn] how to fly helicopters,” Snyder said.

They may not be in the same branch or career field but they both understand the work that goes into their jobs and occasionally grab lunch together at McEntire.

“We now bond on another level because of the work we do in the National Guard,” Michael said.