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NEWS | Feb. 28, 2020

Aviator makes final flight, says goodbye to the Guard

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

As family and friends gathered to watch, a UH-60 Blackhawk streaked through the blue Kentucky sky and made its way to the Army Aviation Support Facility, its pilot taking it all in one final time Feb. 28.

CW5 Knight final flight:

CW5 Knight slide show:

After more than 40 years of service to this nation, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steve Knight celebrated his final flight prior to his retirement ceremony at the flight facility on Boone National Guard Center.

“I’m glad I didn’t screw anything up on final flight before I made the landing, joked Knight about his approach. “Coming in and seeing everybody out there took my mind off myself and I was overcome with happiness and joy; I didn’t expect to see that many people there.”

The respect that Knight has garnered over the years comes from his willingness to be a teacher and leader.

“Chief Knight is a class act; He was a mentor to the young and old pilots alike. We looked to him for his vast experience and knowledge,” said Col. Gary ‘Dewayne’ Lewis, commander of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade. “On that last flight, he chose to fly with the Brigade’s newest pilot (Warrant Officer James Ashbrook). Ashbook had just returned from flight school only a couple of weeks ago, which was in contrast, the newest pilot in the Kentucky Guard’s first flight. It was a passing of the baton from the old to the young.”

Knight has spent a large part of his military career training Soldiers to fly helicopters into battle or conduct rescue missions. His influence runs deep through the Soldiers in the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade.

“During the ceremony, I asked everyone who had been trained by Steve to raise their hand, and every Aviator in the room young, old and many retired raised their hand,” said Lewis. “Steve passed along much of his knowledge and experience to all of us.”

He deployed three times in support of overseas missions while serving in uniform that took him across many locations to include Kosovo, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

“Two years ago Steve came to me requesting to take command of the C12 unit. He said that was how he wanted to end his career, taking them on a deployment to Kuwait. His wife and son fully supported his decision and Steve took command, taking them all on the deployment bringing them home safely,” added Lewis.

Knight’s son Jeremy has continued the family tradition as a part of the 63rd and was also the crew chief on his dad’s final flight.

With his days of retirement in front of him, he is looking forward to spending more time with his family and sharing new experiences with his wife, Kim and their new dog, Izzy.

Asked to sum up the last forty years, Knight said he hasn’t had to work a day in his life because he “absolutely loved” what he did. “It was a joy to go to work.”

“I would like to thank everybody who has taken part in helping me through my career and making me what I am today,” said Knight. “It was great people before me that guided me and put me on the path to success."

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