An aviation maintenance officer assigned to PEO Aviation has reached a milestone attained by less than one-10th of 1 percent of those who join the Army.
Darryl Rawlings was promoted to the rank of chief warrant officer 5 in a ceremony June 30 at the Sparkman Center.
Rawlings entered active duty in 1993, completed initial entry rotary wing and warrant officer basic a year later and remained on active duty for nine years. With a total of 21 years of service between both the active and reserve components, the road that led to his promotion to chief warrant officer 5 was atypical, even for a warrant officer.
"I came from the street directly to the warrant officer program," said Rawlings, the aviation maintenance officer for the Utility Helicopters Project Office. "I was applying for Air Force, Navy and Marine flight school, and didn't even consider the Army.
"When I was going to my car, I passed by the Army recruiting office and saw a poster of a guy in a flight suit. I went in and asked if they had pilots, and the recruiter said they did."
Rawlings, who had a Federal Aviation Administration fixed wing commercial license before he joined the Army, said he was given a number of options to consider when he signed up. He was offered a choice of components as well as entering the Army as a regular commissioned officer or warrant officer.
"I didn't know what a warrant officer was, so the recruiter set me up with an appointment with five RLOs and five WOs. Out of the 10 I spoke with, nine of them told me I would be happier as a warrant, so I went with the Warrant Officer Flight Training Program and active duty," he said.
Rawlings is qualified to fly a wide array of both rotary and fixed wing aircraft, and says he feels equally at ease flying either platform, with a few exceptions.
"The differences are functionally significant during flight planning, takeoff, landing and the speed at which the needles move in flight," he said about the switching between fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. "Like anything else the transition back and forth becomes quicker the more you do it."
Rawlings has flown more than 5,200 hours in rotary and fixed wing aircraft with over 1,100 combat hours. When it comes to a preference of which aircraft he prefers to fly, he says he enjoys flying them both. It just it depends on the mission.
As for achieving the rank of chief warrant officer 5, he says he understands it's all about advising leaders and providing the insight on how things could better function both internally with the Army in general, and he looks forward to the challenge.
In his current position Rawlings is responsible for providing direct support to active duty, National Guard and Reserve units supporting contingency operations.
"It is fun being an advocate for the Soldiers in the field," he said. "At this level I can highlight the difference between what is important or a really good idea, or things that may seem to be beneficial, but are not so important that we put valuable resources against them."