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National Guard pilot ends career with 'Final Flight'

National Guard pilot ends career with 'Final Flight'

After 40 years of service, Robert Wold took one last military flight in Latham Wednesday afternoon.
National Guard pilot ends career with 'Final Flight'
National Guard pilot Robert Wold flies under two streams of water in his "Final Flight."
Photographer: Marc Schultz

After 40 years of service, Robert Wold took one last military flight in Latham Wednesday afternoon.

As Wold, a chief warrant officer with the New York State National Guard, flew back into the airport in an Army C-12, he was welcomed back by family, friends and the spray of airport firetrucks.

“We try to keep [the ‘Final Flight’] from being too demanding. Quit while you’re ahead!” he said with a laugh after the flight.

Though the 59-year-old Iraq War veteran has 6,000 flight hours under his belt, the simple training flight Wednesday afternoon is sure to be one for the books.

“It means a whole lot to have all your co-workers, your friends and family there to share in that last military flight. Every time we fly, it takes an entire team to get the aircraft airborne and to do the mission,” said Wold.

That team, he said includes everyone from ground support and maintenance to the families who support them from home.

Raised in a family of veterans based in Somerset, Wisconsin, Wold joined the U.S. Army in 1975 as a medium helicopter repairman when he was just 18 years old. “I never dreamed it would last so long,” he said.

“I always felt that everyone should serve in some capacity. My father and a number of my uncles all served,” he added.

After returning from active duty in 1988, Wold was offered a job at Fort Drum as a maintenance pilot. He joined the National Guard shortly after moving.

Wold served one tour in Iraq during 2008 and 2009 as a Task Force Jester Aviation Maintenance Officer. He responded to Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012 as well.

Wold will retire as a chief warrant officer in January. “Warrant officers are technical specialists who fall in between the Army’s non-commissioned officers, known as sergeants, and the commissioned officer corps,” according to a press release.

Wold and his wife of 40 years, Cheryl, now live in Ballston Lake. The couple plan to relocate to Wisconsin and hope to travel the northwestern and southwestern United States in their free time. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.

“I got to see a lot of places in the service but didn’t really get to visit them,” said Wold.
Wold hopes anyone interested in enlisting will consider the opportunities the military offers, such as educational benefits and training in military intelligence, technology and maintenance. 

The most rewarding part of his decades of service? The people. “You can have a tough job and even on a mundane day, some of the great people we have make it all worthwhile. It keeps you coming back,” said Wold.

Wold has been awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroism outside of combat, the Bronze Star medal, the Global War onTerrorism Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal and the NATO Medal, among others.
 

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