From Bucket Trucks to Blackhawk Helicopters: APS Crew Leader and Arizona National Guard Pilot Earns Prestigious National Veteran Leadership Award

Riley Burdick, a born and raised Arizonan from Show Low, has served in the Arizona National Guard for nearly two decades. A trained helicopter pilot, Burdick’s long and tenured military career has taken him on overseas deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, and missions in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. He’s also flown Blackhawk helicopters to fight wildfires across Arizona and California.

While Burdick is often busy maintaining military readiness by clocking in flight hours or working weekend drills with other soldiers, come Monday he trades his military uniform and Blackhawk for an APS hardhat and bucket truck.

In his role as APS Supervisor of Operations and Maintenance, Burdick oversees a 24/7 operation and works directly with line crews to make sure power poles, electrical wire and other equipment is in top shape to serve customers year-round. When hot summer temperatures and storms hit, Burdick leverages his problem-solving and tactical skills sharpened by his military experience to help crews respond to storm damage and make repairs to get the lights back on as quickly and safely as possible for customers.

“On the surface, they seem like two completely different jobs, and it might be hard to connect the dots between a helicopter pilot and an electrical utility crew supervisor, but both my careers in the military and in the utility industry pull from a transferable, shared skillset,” said Burdick.

Recently, Burdick earned the distinguished 2024 Employee Veteran Leadership Award. The award is presented by Military Friendly ®, a national organization that honors employees of an organization who are U.S. military veterans and demonstrate qualities of leadership, teamwork and determination. Burdick is one of just 40 military veterans nationwide recognized.

“APS is a local, hometown utility and our employees exemplify the passion, talent and skills that our state has to offer. Riley is a chief example of steadfast dedication, leadership and commitment to always answering the call of duty. We’re grateful for his service to APS customers, the military community and Arizona,” said Tony Tewelis, APS Vice President of Transmission and Distribution.

Burdick is passionate about making a positive impact on the military and veteran community and uses his combined service and utility experience to help advance fellow veterans and mentor coworkers transitioning from military to civilian careers.

“Service members demonstrate discipline, leadership and have a trained ability to make thoughtful and calculated decisions in high pressure environments. That’s what makes them a perfect match for the electrical utility industry. At APS, those skills translate to employees who work to provide customers with safe and reliable energy year-round.”

After nearly two decades serving his state and country, Burdick plans to retire from the Arizona National Guard and take his last flight later this year.

When asked what his biggest passion across his long tenure and service has been, Burdick shares, “I’ve had a career that’s spanned almost 20 years, but when it comes down to it, both my experiences in the Arizona National Guard and at APS connect through one foundational principle and that is the importance of serving our community when it needs support the most. To me, that’s been one of the most meaningful parts.”

The same organization honoring Burdick has also designated APS as a 2024 Military Friendly® Employer. The designation goes to organizations that recruit, hire and train veterans and invest in comprehensive and impactful initiatives that benefit service members.

Veterans make up more than 15% of the APS workforce overall, and 30% at APS owned and operated Palo Verde Generating Station.

Riley Burdick, a born and raised Arizonan from Show Low, has served in the Arizona National Guard for nearly two decades.

APS serves approximately 1.4 million homes and businesses in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties, and is a leader in delivering reliable, affordable, and clean energy in the Southwest. The company is committed to serving customers with 100% clean power by 2050. As owner and operator of Palo Verde Generating Station, one of the nation’s largest producers of carbon-free electricity, and with one of the country’s most substantial renewable energy portfolios, APS’s current energy mix is 51% clean. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW).

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