August 9, 2009 (by Capt. Anthony L. Bucci) - Launching and recovering aircraft are part of a crew chief's responsibility, having your final assignment be a pilot's 4,000 flying hour flight is an unbelievable coincidence.
Lt. Col. D. Scott Brenton a pilot assigned to the 174th FW, Hancock Field, Syracuse, NY posses with SMSgt. Christopher McDonald a crew chief commemorating Lt. Col. Brenton's achievement of flying more then 4,000 hours inside the cockpit of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. [USAF photo by SSgt. James N. Faso II]
On Saturday the 8th of August Senior Master Sgt. Chris McDonald, 174FW Aircraft Maintenance Supervisor launched and recovered Lt. Col. D. Scott Brenton
F-16 enabling him to share in this illustrious milestone.
Senior Master Sgt. McDonald will retire militarily on the 12th of August and perform his last day as a federal employee of the 174FW sometime in mid-September. He has served faithfully for nearly 33 years in the Air National Guard starting his career in the District of Columbia and more recently with the 174FW here in Syracuse, NY. He has served 10 tours of duty in a combat environment to include Operation Dessert Storm in 1991, as well as every deployment for training the unit has went on with exception of the last DFT in April 2009.
"I remember boarding the aircraft as we were deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when Major Gen. (Ret.) Robert A. Knauff, the NY Air National Guard Commander said to me Chris why is it that I always see you on every deployment that this unit in involved with", said Senior Master Sgt. McDonald with a smile.
He graduated high school in 1976 and found work in the restaurant industry, while also performing some landscaping jobs. It was a good friend of his that told him he should join the D.C. Air National Guard and in 1977 he did just that. He went off to basic training that year and then to Sheppard, AFB
, TX where he completed the Aircraft Maintenance course for one and two jet engines eventually working as an Aero Repair Specialist on the F-105 Thunderchief.
During his career he has had the opportunity to work on the F-4, T-43, T-39, T-43, A-10, F-16 block 15
, 30, 25 and then 30 again, however to be part of this historic milestone was a big thrill for him. Senior Master Sgt. McDonald has had a very satisfying career and is eyeing a new career with the University of Rochester as part of their maintenance staff. Senior Master Sgt. McDonald will no longer have to make the daily commute of 110 miles from Rochester; as well it will let him spend some more quality time with his wife Beth.
"The reason I was hired for this position with the University of Rochester was because of my military experience. Because the Air National Guard trained and gave me all of the necessary skills that I needed, as well as the core values that made me attractive to my future employer", said McDonald.
Senior Master Sgt. McDonald will not be assigned here when the 174FW begins flying Combat Air Patrols with the MQ-9 Reaper this November, as well as in March 2010 when the last F-16s leave the field. He did say he would like to make it back to watch the last F-16s leave as that will be a sad day for him, although he is extremely proud to have been a part of the 174FW for more than 25 years.
"Part of me has left with the F-16. As a crew chief I salute the pilot to release the aircraft to them, while letting them know that they are leaving with a good jet. When he returns that salute he is telling me that he will take good care of it and returns it back safely. There is that kind of trust between the crew chief and the pilot. I will definitely miss that", said McDonald.