05/18/06 — ‘Wally’ Kornegay: An institution at Seymour Johnson

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‘Wally’ Kornegay: An institution at Seymour Johnson

Wing commanders came and went for years at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. But for almost three decades, one thing didn’t change in the office of the commanders.

Walena Smith Kornegay was always there. For 26 of her 31 years as a civil service employee, she was secretary to the wing commanders.

Most of those commanders went on to flag rank positions, some of them becoming four-star generals. Officers do not rise to flag rank without outstanding records, especially in their performances as “O-6s.”

Wally Kornegay’s experience and insights in all probability enhanced the abilities of 4th Fighter Wing commanders to perform with distinction while posted at Seymour Johnson.

Indeed, one officer — who later retired as a general — said that when he was offered the wing commander’s job at Seymour Johnson, his first question was: “Is Wally still there?”

Mrs. Kornegay not only knew the base, its problems, its people and its opportunities, she knew the civilian community. She could be an invaluable source of counsel for the commanders.

She retired in 1992. But Air Force people and members of the civilian community traveling to other bases or running into former personnel from Seymour Johnson often were asked, “How is Wally Kornegay?”

In recent years, Mrs. Kornegay had not being doing so well.

After a period of declining health, she died Tuesday at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

But during her 26 years as secretary to the commanders, she was an institution at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. And in the minds of all who knew her, she always will be.

Published in Editorials on May 18, 2006 10:46 AM