Air Guard special tactics chief retires with honors

Story by Senior Airman Vicky Spesard, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Lt. Col. Jeff Wilkinson, commander of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, presents Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Malone with a Meritorious Service Medal during Malone’s retirement ceremony Oct. 20, 2012, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky. Malone served in the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard for 30 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maxwell Rechel)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With 30 years of exemplary service in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. Patrick M. Malone was honorably retired from the Armed Forces Oct. 20 during a ceremony held in his honor at the 123rd Airlift Wing.

Surrounded by hundreds of friends, family and co-workers of all ranks, the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron pararescueman was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal and the Distinguished Kentucky Service Medal by squadron commander Lt. Col. Jeff Wilkinson.

“Chief Malone’s accomplishments are too many to name,” Wilkinson said. “He is a one-in-a-million individual. His degree of personality, talent, leadership and caring is so exceptional, that we are blessed to work with him. Men like him come around only once in a lifetime.”

Malone began his career in the Air Force on Oct. 19, 1982. After completing basic training, he went on to become a special operations pararescueman, a jump-qualified trauma-care specialist whose primary mission is to deploy into restricted environments and extract injured personnel. His first duty assignment was with the 6594th Test Group at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, where he conducted numerous open-ocean rescue missions.

After serving an active-duty tour in Alaska as a member of the 71st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Malone joined the Alaska Air Guard. There, he assisted in several search-and-recovery missions and was credited with saving 85 lives.

In 2000, Malone enlisted in the Kentucky Air National Guard as its first pararescue senior enlisted advisor, playing a key role in the transformation of the existing 123rd Combat Control Flight into a special tactics squadron. He also personally led the Air National Guard special operations task force responsible for the evacuation of thousands of citizens in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina.

“Chief Malone is a visionary,” Wilkinson told the audience. “He mentored, cultivated and trained future members of the new squadron. More than that, Chief Malone has built an everlasting bond of brotherhood within our unit.”

As part of the retirement ceremony, the special tactics squadron presented Malone and his family with a commemorative American flag.

“What can I say about my squadron — wow!” Malone remarked. “It has been my pleasure, my privilege and honor to work with you, and I salute you all.”

A combat veteran of Operations Enduring Freedom Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom, Malone’s many decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Airman’s Medal, the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.

Malone thanked many of his co-workers and family members for their support during his career, but he reserved special recognition for his wife, Kim.

“You’re everything,” he said. “You have been here with me always. You are my mentor, my guide, and the love of my life. Thank you.”

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