Proud of the Progress – Former aviation maintenance operator excited for Army Aviation’s future

By Sgt. Lerone Simmons, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Retired Chief Warrant Officer William H. Canon, former shop foreman assigned to the 2113th Transportation Aircraft Maintenance Company, poses with a new UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter after a ribbon cutting ceremony for Kentucky’s new Army Aviation Support Facility and introduction of a new fleet of UH-60M’s, Boone National Guard Center, Frankfort, Ky., Oct. 14, 2015. Canon gave thirty five years of his life to providing maintenance to Kentucky’s aircraft. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Lerone Simmons)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Sitting in a new multi-million dollar facility, retired Chief Warrant Officer William Canon Jr., reminisced about providing maintenance to the Kentucky National Guard’s aircraft in high winds, pouring rain, freezing cold and summer heat.

“When I first joined, our pilots had recently flown in World War II,” he said. “Our equipment was old and we didn’t have adequate places to work.

“We had to park trucks around the helicopters to make sure the wind didn’t hit them directly,” said Canon. “The elements are one of the worst things when it comes to properly maintaining aircraft.”

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Capt. Yancey York confers with SPEC5 William H. Canon as he prepares for a flight in a OH-13E, circa 1960. (Photo courtesy Chief Warrant Officer(R) Harold Canon)

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Canon enlisted in the Army in 1950 and retired in 1990. He would join a fledgling aviation program in 1955.

In 1959, the Kentucky aviation assets found a new home in Frankfort, Kentucky, at the Capital City Airport. Then, 18-or-so-years later in 1971, Canon witnessed a state-of-the-art facility erected at Boone National Guard Center – the Army Aviation Support Facility. A hangar for the helicopters assigned to Kentucky. During his tenure, Canon rose to the level of shop foreman, assigned to the 2113th Transportation Aircraft Maintenance Company, and retired out of the old AASF.

But on Oct. 14, he joined hundreds of other current and former Kentucky National Guardsmen as the ribbon was cut, ceremoniously showing off the Kentucky National Guard’s newest AASF at Boone National Guard Center. He also got to view, sit in, and touch the new UH-60M, the Army’s newest in the Blackhawk fleet.

The new AASF is 126,000 square feet and uses geo-thermal heating and cooling, solar power, 80 kilowatts photovoltaic solar power, high efficiency lighting, daylight harvesting technology, and radiant floor heating. It holds several offices for staff, classrooms, a gym and plenty of space.

“We come from a time where we didn’t always have a climate controlled area or lots of space,” said Canon’s old company commander, retired Lt. Col. Willoughby S. Goin III, a former pilot with 12,000 flying hours.

“This will help allow the Guard to be able to deploy troops to any affected areas in a timely manner,” he said, “at times when ice storms, tornados and floods can destroy roads, the Guard can then utilize the air from this facility.”

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky and other special guests honored Canon in their remarks during the building’s dedication. The Kentucky Guard’s aviation safety record was also bragged upon during the remarks.

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Sitting from left to right, retired Army Chief Warrant Officer William H. Canon, former shop foreman who was assigned to the 2113th Transportation Aircraft Maintenance Company, retired Army Lt. Col. Jere Roche, former commander of the 441st Medical Detachment, and retired Army Lt. Col. Willoughby S. Goin III, former commander of the 2113th Transportation Aircraft Maintenance Company, carry on a conversation after a ribbon cutting ceremony for Kentucky’s new Army Aviation Support Facility in Frankfort, Ky., Oct. 14, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Lerone Simmons)

Kentucky hasn’t had any major accidents or loss of life for the span of the last 250,000 flying hours, which Tonini said boils down to a huge feat of great maintenance and outstanding flying. He added that the Kentucky Guard has flown at least 15 missions over the Commonwealth during times of disaster, also while supporting the Joint Support Operations counterdrug efforts and overseas contingency operations.

For the many aviation retirees and current Guardsmen who maintain the Commonwealth’s air assets, the day was a reunion and a celebration of moving forward.

“What I’ve seen is outstanding,” said Canon. “I’m proud the progress we’ve made.”