RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO-AM) – A South Dakota Army National Guard pilot took his final flight last week finishing a career of more than 30 years of service to the state and nation as a military aviator.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ken East flew a C-12 King Air fixed-wing aircraft for the last time as a National Guard pilot at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Rapid City. East, of Rapid City, will retire July 31.
“I’ve been in the military most of my adult life and there were good and bad times, but I when I look back on it, I wouldn’t change a thing,” said East. “As I continue to create new chapters in my life, none of it would be complete without the continued love and support of my family.”
Following his flight, East also relinquished command of his unit, Detachment 48, Operational Support Airlift Command, to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wayne Walker, a position he held since September 2010.
East’s military career includes active-duty service in the U.S. Air Force and Army, as well as service in the Montana National Guard. He has flown both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft to include the UH-1 Huey, OH-58 Kiowa and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
East has flown countless missions over the years, which includes wildland fire suppression missions, drug-trafficking surveillance missions for state and federal law enforcement agencies and U.S.-Mexico border-patrol operations. He also flew aerial support and security for former President Bill Clinton’s visit to South Dakota. East also served as the commander of the SDNG’s Counterdrug Rapid Assessment and Interdiction Detachment and Company A, 1-112th Aviation Regiment.
East is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and served during peace-keeping operations in Kosovo. While deployed to Afghanistan from August 2011- July 2012, East flew the KA- 300 King Air aircraft – performing combat-surveillance missions supporting coalition ground forces.
From August 2003 – August 2004, he deployed to Kosovo and flew UH-60 Black Hawks in support of medical evacuation operations throughout the country.
East also served a decade as a civilian aviator, flying as an emergency medical helicopter pilot in Rapid City, Aberdeen and Minot, N.D.
East said he is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Deb, and children, Eric and Shannon.
High resolution photos are available at www.flikr.com/southdakotanationalguard
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please contact Maj. Anthony Deiss at (605) 737-6721 or cell (605) 431- 8753, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.