On April 21, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Douglas Hoover took his last helicopter flight as he retired from the Kansas Army National Guard – for the second time.
His military career began Feb. 11, 1981.
“I first enlisted at age 17,” said Hoover. “My primary interest was aviation and flying. I found a friend through a civilian job at that time, expressed my interest in flying, and he suggested the Kansas National Guard.”
Hoover’s first job was as a mechanic for the CH-54 Tarhe “Skycrane” helicopter with the 137th Transportation Company (Heavy Helicopter) in Salina.
“I loved it and worked until I was able to become a crew chief,” said Hoover.
Then, when the Kansas National Guard transitioned to the UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter in the late 1980s, Hoover decided to change his career path.
“We lost our Skycranes, reclassed and became an air assault unit,” said Hoover. “We received 23 Hueys, and 46 M-60D machine guns. It saddened me when we lost the cranes. As a result, I decided to no longer be a crew chief, and became a Huey mechanic for about a year.”
Hoover went to flight school in 1987 and flew Hueys until the mid-1990s when the unit transitioned to the UH-60 Black Hawk. Hoover flew Black Hawks until he retired in June 2001 as a chief warrant officer 2.
Then Sept. 11, 2001, happened.
“On that day, I decided I wasn’t done,” said Hoover. “I started the process to come back out of retirement. That process took approximately 18 months. I had to complete a Class 1 U.S. Army flight physical again. Not an easy task for a 37-year-old retiree.”
When the process was complete, he returned to the 1st Battalion, 108th Aviation Regiment as a chief warrant officer 2 UH-60 pilot. He has been a maintenance test pilot/maintenance officer since 2005, working as a full-time technician at the Army Aviation Support Facility #2 in Salina. During his career, he deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Spartan Shield, in addition to deployments for wildland fires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
“I’ve attended approximately 37 annual training events, and, during the time I have been in the Kansas Army National Guard, I can proudly say, I’ve missed only about four drills and those were excused absences,” said Hoover. “This career has given me many memories and countless friends and brothers-in-arms. I am thankful for it all, with no regrets, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am honored to be part of something a whole lot greater than myself and hope I have done my part in making a difference.”