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NEWS | April 30, 2021

A generational brotherhood found in midst of pandemic

By Sgt. Jesse Elbouab, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

The usual hustle and bustle of the Army Aviation Support Facility, or AASF, and the Soldiers that run the operation on Boone National Guard Center, took a moment to slow down and spend quality time with some exceptional guests Friday, April 30, 2021. Three veteran residents, one veteran volunteer, and three health care workers from a Lexington-based long-term health care facility took a tour of the hangar and checked out the aircraft and equipment.

The visit was not random by any means. While Soldiers from the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade were assigned to provide pandemic support at Sayre Christian Village in Lexington, a lasting friendship blossomed between the guardsmen and one of the residents. World War II veteran, Paul Frederick, made a lasting impression on these Soldiers.

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"Every time we saw him, he would light up," said Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Rezac, senior enlisted advisor for the 63rd TAB. "Anytime he was in the hallway, he'd stop and visit for as long as he could."

Frederick served his country as a Marine, stationed throughout the Pacific and Iwo Jima. During one conflict, he was engulfed in flames and forced to jump overboard after enemy forces torpedoed his ship. He lost four of his closest friends that day.

It is stories like these that Frederick, Rezac, and other service members shared while working at the facility. Their experience together became so significant to the Guardsmen that the team organized a flag flyover in Frederick's honor.

In February, a UH-72 Lakota helicopter crew with the 63rd TAB flew an American Flag over the Kentucky State Capitol. Once grounded, everyone signed the flag and then presented it as a gift to Frederick, who proudly displays it outside his room.

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This brotherhood is not going anywhere. Rezac had a plan to invite Frederick to Boone Center to visit the new aviation facility, but restrictions in place due to COVID-19 delayed planning.

"I have not left Sayre since this COVID stuff started," said Frederick. "I got the staff to call Command Sergeant Major Rezac to see if some of my vet friends could come too. he He said, ‘Sure. Bring them all.’"

The excitement was apparent when the Sayre bus arrived at the front door. As the four veterans unloaded, they went up to the flight operation center, received a welcome brief, learned about the facility and what type of equipment the Kentucky National guard uses, and then the types of missions Kentucky Guard Soldiers support.

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The conversation shifted to the various roles of everyone in the room ending with the four gentlemen talking about their time in service.

GB Jones, an Air Force automobile tech inspector, talked about his time in Alaska. He made the room gasp when he spoke about serving in hostile, 68-degree weather, and they all laughed when he spoke about his commander skipping out early to go carabao hunting.

John Donovan, a former MEDEVAC aviation commander that volunteers with Sayre Christian Village, talked about how much Boone Center changed since his years on the property’s flight line.

"It's been a privilege to honor our World War II Veterans and get to host a few of them at our Army Aviation Support Facility here in Frankfort," said Col. Dwayne Lewis, 63rd TAB Commander. "I'm humbled to have had the opportunity to shake their hand and thank them as members of our greatest generation."

The tour boasted a lot of mask-covered smiles and exciting moments. The Sayre Christian Village staff joyfully climbed up in the cockpits and enjoyed seeing their residents’ faces light up.

"This is our first field trip since COVID started," said Marie Wilson, a staff member from Sayre. "We all needed to get out and have some fun, and I think it is obvious we did that today."

The tour wrapped up with a coin and unit patch presentation from Lewis and Rezac, which showed their appreciation for these honorable veterans.

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