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NEWS | Dec. 14, 2021

Kentucky Aviator recognized for four decades of service

By Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Crane Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

Family and friends were on hand to see Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dave Mattox get awarded with his 40-year plaque during an awards ceremony at the Army Aviation Support Facility on Boone National Guard Center Dec. 3, 2021.

Chief Mattox currently serves as the as the only qualified UH-60 Maintenance Examiner, a Maintenance Test Pilot, Instructor Pilot, and Instrument Examiner on both models of Blackhawk aircraft presently in Kentucky Aviation.

Ironically nicknamed, ‘Danger Dave’ has seen a lot in his four decades of service to the military, but he says that he has enjoyed every moment of it and was glad that his family was able to attend this milestone event in his illustrious career that has seen him serve in the Active Army, Army Reserve and the Army National Guard.

“My family has never seen me get promoted throughout my career so I thought this was a great opportunity to share a meaningful career event with them.” said Mattox. “I was deployed in Kuwait when I was promoted to CW5 so they obviously missed that. I never could have endured a career of this length without the loving support of my wife and my two kids. They've had to bear a lot of the brunt of the blow of me being gone so many weekends, so many months at training. I thought this was an opportunity for me to have them here and express my gratitude for their supporting me throughout my career.”

A career that started well before cell phones, internet and compact discs.

“Forty years is certainly a long time to wear the uniform, says Mattox.
“I'm blessed from having the health to keep wearing the uniform and I guess I must be doing a decent job or they would have found a way to tell me it's time for you to leave.”

Deciding to join the Army after high school was an easy decision for him since he had wanted to fly helicopters but knew his parents didn’t have the funds to send him to flight school.

“I can remember being in the fifth grade and seeing a small helicopter land at my elementary school and thinking, ‘Wow, that is really cool!’ I want to do that someday. As I got towards the end of high school, I realized my family wouldn't be able to help put me through college or a local flight school, but there was the Army with their ‘Be all that you can be’ slogan that impressed me,” he said.

Mattox was 17 years old when he enlisted into the active duty Army in the late summer of 1981 after graduating high school in Pendleton County, Ky. He soon left for basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina where he celebrated his 18th birthday. After he graduated his advanced individual training as an AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter Repairman at Fort Eustis, VA. He went to his first duty station with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Since he wasn’t able to go directly to flight school, he became an aviation mechanic. He served his 3 years of active duty time with the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Ky., and also had one overseas deployment.

“My time at Fort Campbell was great and the 101st is an awesome unit and a big adventure,” said Mattox. “But after arriving in Germany and working on a deuce and a half (a 2 ½ ton truck) scraping rust and painting it for my first 45 days there instead of working on aircraft, I said I'm done with active duty-surely the state of Kentucky has helicopters and a chance for me to fly.”

Shortly after his return to the states, he found a recruiter on Boone National Guard Center. And with that he started his career off in the Kentucky National Guard, less than one month after separating from active duty.

His career has seen deployments overseas and missions that have ranged from fighting fires to stopping the drug trade in the Commonwealth. One of his favorite memories was when he was with the Joint Support Operations (JSO) teams working with the Kentucky State Police searching for marijuana fields.

“I flew over 300 hours in about a four-month period, flying down at JSO in London, Ky., in an OH-58 helicopter with a state trooper in the other seat, and hunting for marijuana, six hours a day,” he said. “It's just such a great experience working with law enforcement, flying four of five days a week out of a normal workweek and eradicating some of the marijuana around the state.”

He also talks about his efforts fighting fire in eastern Kentucky dropping water from buckets and saving a home from catching on fire.

His passion for flying, test flying aircraft, and service is what has pushed him to continue putting on the uniform. But as he winds down his career he has come to appreciate his time in uniform.

“The Army has been very, very good to me. I hope that I have served it well. I've tried to give the Army a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. It's been a really good ride, or should I say a really good flight. Officially I only have a high school diploma, but realistically, I've probably got more like a master's degree when it comes to the Army after all of the education that I've had to complete and with all of the aircraft transitions.”

Starting out on the training aircraft at Fort Rucker, called the TH-55 Osage, Mattox is qualified to fly numerous different aircraft. After his training aircraft, he moved into UH-1 Huey, which is out of the militaries inventory now. Then he flew the OH-58 series of aircraft, which is also out of the inventory as well. From there he’s moved into the UH-60’S different versions: The Alpha, Lima and Mike models. He also has his Chinook helicopter qualification despite Kentucky never getting that model in their flight inventory.

“It's been a great career, and I appreciate everything the Army has given me the opportunity to do. I'm planning to continue serving and close out strong these last two years. I'm still training and evaluating junior aviators. I'm still test flying aircraft, and hopefully, staying healthy these last few years. I plan to close it out as I approach 60 years old.” he said.

Mattox has been married to Lisa Fogle Mattox for 31 years and they live near Frankfort with their two sons, Logan and Lincoln. Lisa ministers to the youth at Capital City Christian Church in Frankfort. His son Logan is attending the University of Kentucky, and Lincoln recently graduated Western Hills High School and is preparing to join the Air Force.

He says he plans on retiring in the next few years so he can enjoy time with his wife and possibly move to a warmer climate for part of the year.

“My wife and I are looking forward to snow birding at least in the December, January and February months,” he laughs. “It's hard to think about flying much after I retire though I still could. I figure if I've had a successful career of flying for 37 years and I haven't crashed it might be time to go out on top. My wife and I will probably continue to do some things in ministry, probably with the local church, maybe with some other community ministries here or wherever we end up after the three months of the year that we are not going to be here.”

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