When Rick Gordon stands in front of a homeland security class at Macomb’s Public Service Institute, he strives to inspire each student to follow in his footsteps.
Gordon has patrolled the Mexican border, went undercover for a year with the federal Drug Trafficking Task Force, headed up regional U.S. Border Patrol recruitment efforts in Washington after 911, was deployed as a reservist to Southeast Asia and served in the Office of the Chief Master Sergeant for the Air Force at the Pentagon. He’s also earned two associate degrees from the Community College of the Air Force and bachelor and master degrees from Central Michigan University, and is a distinguished graduate of the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Tennessee.
“Every day I just do the best that I can do in any given situation,” says Gordon, special operations supervisor for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Detroit Office, and chief master sergeant with the Air National Guard and command chief of its 110th Attack Wing. “That has worked best for me throughout my career.”
Like his students, Gordon started out at Macomb, enrolling in its Fire Science program in 1987 after graduating from Bishop Gallagher High School.
“It was an integral part of my education. I never dreamed I would be back as faculty,” says Gordon. “I derive as much satisfaction from teaching as I do from my service in the Guard and Border Patrol. I have many veterans in my classes and to help them and other students aspire to a career in law enforcement is very fulfilling.”
Gordon joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves in 1991. He spent three years assigned to Selfridge Air National Guard Base as a firefighter to the 927th Civil Engineering Squadron, before being hired by the U.S. Border Patrol and deployed to New Mexico for six years. Reassignment to the northern U.S. border brought him back home, where he signed up with the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard.
“I am the son of a military veteran and I’ve always had a desire to serve,” says Gordon. “I tell my students that the reserve is a fantastic way to serve your country.”
The 110th Attack Wing, of which he was appointed command chief last October, is headquartered at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base. Gordon commutes between Battle Creek and his home in Macomb County, which he shares with wife, Laura, and their three children. The mission of the 110th includes remote piloting of the MQ-9 drones, agile combat support, and cyber defense. Gordon is responsible for advising the base commander on all matters related to the health, morale and welfare of the base’s enlisted personnel, which number about 700, and their families.
“Although we are smaller than Selfridge, we have a unique mission to the Air Force,” says Gordon. “To have the opportunity to serve at this level is an honor and a privilege.”