Kentucky’s able aviators

By Maj. Stephen Martin, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Kentucky's Able Aviators

Fifteen members of the Kentucky National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade have accumulated 4,000 military flight hours or more in their career. The Bluegrass Chapter of The Army Aviation Association of America has recognized these aviation Soldiers for their accomplishment. Pictured from LEFT to RIGHT: Chief Warrant Officer 4 Porter Whitney, Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Boyle, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eric Mattingly, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tony Villier, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steve Bowling, Command Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dean Stoops, Staff Sgt. Daryl Casey, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Harold Grider, Col. Brian Abney (State Army Aviation Officer), Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steve Knight, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Shawn Gabhart, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Stuart Lindfors, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gerald Carroll, 1st Sgt. Matt Singer, 1st Sgt. Troy Logsdon, Lt. Col. Dewayne Lewis. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky National Guard’s Army aviation community is steeped in history. From their arrival in 1959 at the Capital City Airport in Frankfort, Ky. through being the first National Guard unit in the country assigned Blackhawks, Kentucky’s aviation Soldiers have remained at the forefront of their career field.

Fifteen members of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade have 4,000 military flight hours or more. They represent a wealth of aviation experience which few aviation formations can match. Because of this, The Bluegrass Chapter of the Army Aviation Association of America (Quad A) took time to recognize these Soldiers for their accomplishments.

To see photos of these Army Aviators in action over the years, please click HERE.

130709-Z-GN092-199

The Kentucky National Guard said farewell to their C-23 Sherpas during a ceremony at Capital City Airport in Frankfort, Ky., July 9, 2013. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“The Kentucky Guard aviation community is recognized by any measurable metric as one of the finest aviation organizations in any component of the Army,” said Col. Brian Abney, State Army Aviation Officer. “These 15 Soldiers are indicative of the quality of our program here in Kentucky for sure…  The flying hour milestones that these individuals have reached remain a notable accomplishment for any organization and I am especially proud of this group of aviation professionals.”

An old aviator’s quote says, “You can always take off, but you can’t always land…” An axiom like this reminds all flyers the cost of the profession and the decisions that need to be made on a regular basis.

Collectively these 15 aviation Soldiers have accumulated in excess of 80,000 flight hours without a Class A, B or C accident and an average time in service of more than 28 years.

What does this mean to the Kentucky Guard?

For one, the safety record of the Kentucky Army National Guard is unparalleled.  Indeed, the Kentucky Guard has not experienced a Class A or B Army accident since 1970.  A time frame which encompasses multiple combat tours and numerous overseas deployments with more than 250,000 flight hours flown on a variety of different types of aircraft. This can be attributed to the level of experience that the troops in this profession boast.

101013-A-AY590-514

C Co 2/238th MEDEVAC conducts personnel recovery (PR) operations over the Northern Arabian Gulf (NAG) Oct. 10, 2013. The unit is qualifying all army aviation crewmembers on overwater hoist PR while on deployment. This was conducted as a joint training exercise with a sister flight company who deployed the Navy EOD teams into the water via HeloCast and were recovered by the MEDEVAC aircraft. (photo submitted)

Regarding combat flight time exclusively, these 15 aviation Soldiers have accumulated 10,000 hours across a combined total of 30 deployments since 9/11. These high flyers have flown in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Kuwait, not to mention Europe, South America and Central Asia among other locations.

Considerably, these operations couldn’t be accomplished without the crew-chiefs,  administrative  and supply personnel. It’s a coordinated effort to get a multi-million dollar aircraft airborne. That’s why it’s equally impressive that three of the Soldiers on this list are enlisted crew-chiefs.

“Everybody plays a part, from the maintenance guys giving us a safe aircraft to operations ensuring we are safe to the crews executing the mission,” said 1st Sgt. Matt Singer, Company C., 1st Battalion 376th Aviation. ” 4,000 flight hours requires a whole lot more than 4,000 hours of work on the part of a lot of folks.”

“We may not go to flight school, but we can certainly give beneficial technical or tactical advice from a different point of view… in addition to providing comic relief and stinging sarcasm, which is required of all crew chiefs.”

63rd TAB Command Sgt. Major Bill Stocker talks about the significance of the enlisted Soldiers accomplishments.

“Crew-Chief’s in this community are the unsung heroes of aviation. These ‘part-time’ Guardsmen have the same requirements as their active duty counterparts and are held to the same standard. They are required to make sure the aircraft is in good working order especially after the officers upfront do their level-best to break the thing.”

Stocker points out that these service members are charged with both the fight abroad on behalf of the nation as well as providing support to the commonwealth. “Their experience level is kept here in this organization and is not turned over every three years. This is crucial to accomplishing the mission the way we do.”

“This band of brothers are great mentors for the next generation of crew-members and in showing us what right looks like. They are an invaluable commodity for this brigade,” said Stocker. “The Kentucky National Guard’s Army enlisted aviation community will reap the rewards of their hard work and commitment for years to come.”

Kentucky's Able Aviators

Chief Warrant Officers Bowling and Johnston pose just after they land an OH-58 A/C helicopter on Canal Street in New Orleans, La. in support of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Fifteen members of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade have 4,000 military flight hours or more. This photo represents the storied history of that endeavor.(Photo courtesy of the 63rd TAB aviation community)

Chief Warrant Officer Steve Bowling offered up a piece of advice to new Soldiers entering the field.

“Today’s young aviators are better equipped than ever before, the new facilities are top notch, and the aircraft are awesome.  The new aviator skill level with the newest systems are better than they have ever been. The Guard has done a great job of equipping the force for the future.  In addition the amount of trust we can place on the younger folks has never wavered.  They are as good as ever in my experience.”

“However being an old guy I still want them to know how to do things ‘the old fashioned way’ for when the new and improved stuff breaks. GPS is great but I still want to know I can pull out the old ‘HHM’ (Hand Held Map) and we all make it home at the end of the day safe.”

“Those are the things the REAL old guys taught me.”

 

Order from highest to lowest amount of hours: Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Boyle, 9,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 5 Harold Grider, 7,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gerald Carroll, 6,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eric Mattingly, 5,000 hours;  Lt. Col. Dwayne Lewis, 5,000 hours;  Command Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dean Stoops, 5,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steve Knight, 5,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 5 Stuart Lindfors, 5,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 4 Porter Whitney, 5,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 5  Steve Bowling, 5,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 4 Shawn Gabhart, 5,000 hours;  1st Sgt. Troy Logsdon, 4,000 hours;  1st Sgt. Matt Singer, 4,000 hours;  Staff Sgt. Daryl Casey, 4,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tony Villier, 4,000 hours.

About kentuckyguard