On this day in 2015, I received my DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
I left the house that morning with my binder of retirement-related documents & forms and went to Fort Rucker’s Soldier Service Center for the final step to outprocess.
My actual last day in the Army was June 30th, but between this day and then I was on terminal leave (using up my vacation days).
After twenty years as a Soldier, this was the last day I wore a duty uniform. The uniform had changed during my time in service, I started in BDU’s and green one-piece flightsuits, transitioned to ACU’s and the associated flight uniform, and wore OCP while deployed to Afghanistan.
April 22, 2015
On this day in 2015, I had my final flight as an Army Aviator. My friend CW4 Dan Hiestand was able to get a flight approved with me in a TH-67, the same kind of aircraft I first flew as an Army Aviator in training (nearly 19 years earlier to the day) on February 20, 1996.
It was great to have my final flight with Dan. We have known each other for many years; we had previously served together at Fort Rucker as Kiowa Warrior instructors (2004-2005), we flew and served together in Alaska and deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom with 6-17 Cavalry (2008-2009), and we served and flew together in Afghanistan as MD530 instructors (2013).
I was incredibly lucky that in my final months before retirement, I had been afforded the opportunity to have a final flight in each of the Army aircraft I flew during my career. The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, the UH-72 Lakota, the OH-58C Kiowa, and the TH-67 Creek. I suppose my final flight in the MD530 was in Afghanistan.
I looked in my logbook and could not find this exact tail number from my flight school days. But it is possible I flew it during my training, there are quite a few entries that are without tail number entries in my logbook from 1996.
March 9, 2015
Seven years ago today, I was on a training flight near the ancient city of Farah in Afghanistan. The citadel partially shown in the first picture is believed to be one of a series of fortresses constructed by Alexander the Great when he came to the area c. 330 B.C. The pink house just outside the wall on the southeast corner is a vacation home owned by John Mellencamp (not really). Houses in the area are rarely any color other than the color similar to the terrain, so this pink house really stood out. There is a Google Maps link to the Citadel of Farah below.
The second picture is just a nifty selfie I snapped while my student pilot in the left seat was flying. Some of the city can be seen in the reflection of my visor.
March 9, 2013
On this day in 2015, I had my final flight in an Army OH-58C with my friend CW4 Scott Hill.
Scott was able to take me up one last time in a 1969 model of what was my first Army helicopter, the Kiowa (the forerunner to the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior).
I had last flown an OH-58C at Fort Hood in 1997. I need to check my personal logbooks to see if I have ever flown this exact aircraft before.
I was able to fly with Scott a few more times in the next two years while were both instructors at the Bell Training Academy in Texas.
A huge thanks to Scott and those who supported the flight.
February 27, 2015
88 YEARS AGO TODAY: 22 February 1932
The modern Purple Heart medal was established by General Order #3, signed by General Douglas MacArthur. The date was chosen in observance the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. The award was inspired by the Badge of Military Merit, created by Washington in the waning days of the Revolution.
As was the Badge of Military Merit, the Purple Heart was also originally a merit-based award. Wounds received in action were one way a person could qualify for the award. However, since 1942, the medal is awarded to U.S. servicemembers who have been killed or wounded by enemy action.