Faces From the Front for March 8, 2010 - Chief Warrant Officer David Kean
Current Unit: 25th Combat Aviation Brigade
Current Position: Fixed-Wing Pilot
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq
Hometown: Long Beach, Calif.
Years of Service: 23
As Chief Warrant Officer David Kean prepared to deploy to Iraq, he was excited for the challenges that a new deployment and a new job would bring. Now, Kean is serving in Iraq as a fixed-wing pilot with Task Force Observe, Detect, Identify, and Neutralize (ODIN), which conducts reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting and acquisition (RSTA) operations, to better detect and act against insurgent forces.
Serving as a helicopter pilot during his two deployments in Iraq, Kean has found that flying airplanes with Task Force ODIN is quite a different experience.
"It is sort of a natural progression in the Army aviation field," Kean explained of his switch from helicopter to fixed-wing piloting. "As you get older and more experienced you want new challenges and experiences."
While Kean's helicopter training has helped him understand the principles of flying airplanes, he admits there are some key differences.
"The biggest difference between the two is the altitudes we fly. In the helicopter world, everything is done at very low altitudes. Fixed-wing is the opposite. We take off and head up. We spend a lot of our time at an altitude of 25,000 feet or more."
Although Kean's new position has its challenges, the Soldier is enjoying learning a new skill and participating in the adventures fixed-wing piloting has to offer.
"I have only been in fixed-wing for about a year so I am still learning. As any Army aviator will tell you, flying in the combat theatre is a new challenge and it has a steep learning curve," Kean said. "I learn something new every day and on every mission, and I am enjoying every minute of it."
In addition to Kean's work as a pilot, he also serves as the aviation safety officer for his unit, working to ensure that safety standards are met, and conducting investigations to determine causes and solutions when accidents occur.
"The unit's aviators are our most important asset. Anything that I can do to make sure someone is not injured or killed gives me great satisfaction. It is just another important aspect of force protection," Kean said.
Kean has enjoyed learning to fly airplanes and is proud of the RSTA operations he and his unit have conducted. Yet, the Soldier counts his most rewarding deployment experience as being able to witness firsthand the great strides Iraq has made in becoming self-sufficient.
"I have seen the transformation of this country from when I was here in 2003 until now. It is amazing," Kean explained. "They have electricity. They have running water. They have sewers. They have little boys and girls going to school. The police and fire departments are up and running. It is not perfect but it is a whole lot better than it was before. I am very proud to have been a part of that."
Kean is scheduled to return home to his wife, Koreen and two daughters, Jenna and Ashlee in September. A battalion chief with the Long Beach Fire Department in Long Beach, Calif., Kean is anxious to reunite with his family and his fire department friends.
"I love serving my country but I also really miss my civilian job and my fire department family," the Soldier said.
After all, it is his experiences with the people at the fire department, where he started 25 years ago, that he credits with his decision to join the Army.
"I actually joined the Army Reserve after working with many Vietnam Veterans at the fire department. I heard their stories of bravery, camaraderie and service," Kean explained. "So I joined the Army in 1987."
And Army service is something that has stuck for Kean.
"I am a devout patriot who loves my country. I will continue to answer the call to service as long as the Army will have me."