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Veteran Ga. ARNG Aviators Complete Final Flight After More Than 70 Years’ Combined Service

By Maj. William Carraway | Georgia National Guard | Sept. 24, 2020

MARIETTA, Ga. — Two Veteran Ga. ARNG pilots completed their final flight with the Marietta-based 78th Aviation Troop Command Sept. 23, 2020 at the Clay National Guard Center. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Pete Demkow and CW4 Ken Dyson have more than 70 years combined military service. Friends, family members and fellow Soldiers of the 78th ATC lined the taxiway at Hangar 1 on a clear sunny day for a ceremony honoring the careers of Demkow and Dyson. Children scanned the horizon and listened for the rotor chop that would herald the arrival of the aircraft.

At precisely 1:00, right on schedule, Demkow and Dyson’s Black Hawk approached from the east and made a pass over the runway before circling back to Hangar 1. A fire truck from Dobbins Air Reserve Base showered the Black Hawk with a ceremonial water salute as it ground taxied to a stop. Demkow and Dyson were then showered with champagne sprayed by jubilant Soldiers and family members.

Lieutenant Colonel Will Cox, deputy commander of the 78th ATC addressed the ceremony praising the aviators for their long and distinguished service.

“Not only have they spent many years in the organization they have invested in us,” said Cox. “We love you; we appreciate you.”

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Pete Demkow enlisted in the Army November 24, 1980 as an infantryman. He rose through the enlisted ranks to staff sergeant and served as a drill instructor before completing warrant officer candidate school June 16, 1986 and graduating from Initial Entry Rotary Wing Flight School in 1987. Joining the Georgia National Guard in 1996, Demkow currently flies the UH-60A/L and HH-60M Black Hawk. Demkow mobilized to Iraq and been activated for countless domestic response missions at home from Hurricane Katrina to the present COVID-19 response. He has more than 4,600 flight hours in the TH-55 Osage, UH-1 Iroquois and UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter.

Demkow recognized many of the aviators and Soldiers with whom he had served over four decades and thanked his wife Debbie and family for their support

“Thank you for coming out,” said Demkow. Thank you for giving me the opportunity. We do this for our country, and we are just going out and doing our jobs, and you support us in everything we do.”

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ken Dyson joined the Georgia Army National Guard in 2006 after more than 20-years’ military service. A 1984 graduate of the United States Military Academy, Dyson completed U.S. Army Rotary Wing Flight Training in 1985. Over the course of his military career, he has flown more than 4,100 hours in the TH-55 Osage, UH-1 Iroquois and H-60 Black Hawks during domestic response and overseas contingency operations in Iraq.

Dyson thanked his family and recognized the mechanics, refuelers and maintainers that have sustained him over his aviation career.
“It means the world to me that you would all be here,” said Demkow.

Demkow and Dyson’s combined 72 years of service exceeds the number of years the Georgia Army National Guard has flown rotary-wing aircraft. The Ga. ARNG received its first helicopter, an H-13 Sioux, in 1954. Since that time, Georgia’s aviators have assisted the state and southeast region during domestic emergencies ranging from winter storms to hurricanes.