White Rectangle

Self-described ‘computer geek’ rises to rank of Nevada Air Guard general

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Emerson Marcus

John Week planned to leave the Nevada Air Guard in 1989 after completing college courses and reaching the rank of technical sergeant.

“I developed an interest in computers in the 1970s and carried that throughout my career and life,” said Week, who grew up in Minden where his father taught business and typewriting at Douglas High School. “I enjoyed working in aircraft maintenance, but I really wasn’t doing anything with computers there, and that was my passion.”

After working in the private sector at a few computer shops in Reno, Nevada Air Guard leadership eyed Week’s computer skills, hiring him as a supply management officer largely because the squadron sought to transition many processes in an increasingly digital workforce.

“I was impressed with his computer skills and his plain and down to earth personality,” said retired Brig. Gen. Larry Cerfoglio, who at the time was the commander of the 152nd Resource Management Squadron. “He thrived in supply, and developed many changes.”

Three decades later, Week is set to promote to the rank of brigadier general during a ceremony 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Office of the Adjutant General auditorium in Carson City. The ceremony will broadcast live on the Nevada Guard’s Facebook page. Week will remain in his position as the director of the Nevada Guard’s joint staff.

His general officer promotion is the culmination of a journey that almost didn’t happen.

“I didn’t see myself as officer material,” Week said with a laugh about his decision to commission and stay in the Nevada Air Guard. “Chief Master Sgt. (Charlie) Goldbach convinced me to apply for any officer position that opened. I also wasn’t sure how I would do in supply. Maintenance and supply aren’t known to get along. It’s the nature of the beast.”

While serving as a company grade officer at the Nevada Air National Guard Base supply shop, Week also put his computer skills to work as a member of the base network implementation team.

“We didn’t have a local area network on the base,” he said. “There were a few PCs scattered around the base, but no internet access. There was not enough manpower at the time. They basically looked around the base for anyone with experience with computers.”

Following a decade in supply and helping the Nevada Air Guard transition into the internet age, Week took command of the 152nd Maintenance Squadron. After three deployments to Iraq and moving up the ranks, Week eventually became deputy commander, 152nd Maintenance Group, in 2008.

In 2011, Week was named the director of staff, Nevada Air Guard. A few months into his tenure as director of staff, three Nevada National Guard soldiers and one civilian were killed, with several others injured, in a shooting at the IHOP in Carson City. Donations poured in to support those affected by the shooting. Carson-Tahoe Hospital requested someone from the military to ensure proper distribution of funds, and Week volunteered, which eventually turned into a stint as secretary of the Carson-Tahoe Hospital Foundation board of directors. From 2013-2015, he served as the board’s president.

“I enjoyed my time on the Carson-Tahoe Hospital Foundation board of directors,” Week said. “I think it’s important, as members of the Nevada Guard, for us to serve our community in various ways. That was one way for me to do that.”

In 2014, Week left state headquarters and returned to the wing in Reno as commander of the 152nd Mission Support Group.

“When you’re in aircraft maintenance you think of yourself as the support asset, which is true, but without the mission support group you’re not going to get anything done,” Week said. “We made customer service one of our main priorities. A lot of what I learned working in the computer industry in the 1980s grew from that goal of excellent customer service. I’ll admit, there were times when I was younger and enlisted, I wasn’t always treated well. That was not going to be the case when I was commander.”

In 2016, Week returned to state headquarters as the chief of the joint staff. He became director in 2017, his current role overseeing the Nevada Guard’s joint and domestic operations. That was no small task last March when the Nevada Guard ramped up for its largest and lengthiest state activation in history during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1,150 Nevada Guardsmen activated and more than 400 remain on orders today for the state’s pandemic response.

“It was truly unprecedented and unlike anything we’ve ever done in the Nevada Guard,” Week said. “The joint force—both Nevada Army and Air Guard—really came together during the past year to help the state combat the virus. We weren’t trained in community based collection sites, vaccine and food distribution, but everyone came together to accomplish a variety of missions.”

Even with his accomplishments, Week still describes himself as “a nerdy, computer geek,” admitting one of his favorite hobbies is connecting with people around the world through amateur or “ham” radio. “It’s an interesting hobby,” he said. “I’ve connected with all kinds of people around the world, from Japan to South Africa, doctors to dentists, people of all walks of life.”

Cerfoglio, who retired in 2006 as commander of the Nevada Air Guard, said he was happy he and other members in Nevada Guard leadership, spotted Week’s skills, effectively keeping the newly-promoted general in the Guard for an additional three decades.

“I’m very proud of his hard work and dedication to the Nevada Air National Guard,” Cerfoglio said. “He will make an outstanding general officer.”