Face of Defense: Army Aviator Wraps Up Career
By Army Sgt. Christopher Calvert
1st Air Combat Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
FORT HOOD, Texas, Mar. 12, 2013 More than three decades ago, 12-year-old Wayne Turner had a dream of one day becoming an aviator.
Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wayne Turner, left, and Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kourtney Roundtree, AH-64D Apache helicopter pilots, conduct communications checks before Turner makes the last flight of his 20-year military career at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 28, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Calvert
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Today, after more than nine years and four back-to-back deployments with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Air Combat Brigade, Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wayne Turner is hanging up his flight suit.
Turner, an AH-64D Apache helicopter pilot with the brigade’s Company B, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, conducted the last flight operation of his 20-year military career here Feb. 28.
Turner didn’t have the opportunity to fly at first when he entered the Army, he said.
“I enlisted in the delayed entry program in July 1992 as a working dog handler with the [military police],” the Marietta, Ga., native said. “I enjoyed that job; however, I always wanted to be a Delta pilot. My dad was a flight instructor, and he took me up for my first flight when I was 12. After that, I was hooked forever.”
Turner said he employed hard work and persistence to break into the aviation field.
“My commander at the time saw the potential and passion within me,” he said. “She introduced me to her husband, who was a pilot, and it was him who got me in touch with a senior warrant officer who mentored me and assisted me in putting in my packet.”
After graduating from flight school in 2000, Turner was stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., with Renegade Troop, 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, and then at Camp Eagle, South Korea, with B Troop, 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment.
In April 2004, Turner was sent to 1st ACB, where he fitted right in with his battle buddies, he said.
“The time I’ve spent with this unit has been great,” he said. “The camaraderie within the unit is amazing. We truly are a band of brothers here.”
During his time with the unit, Turner went on to deploy three times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, where he flew countless hours in support of four different campaigns.
“Every deployment brought something different to the table, but we always were successful,” Turner said. “I remember flying more than 12 hours over Sadr City, Iraq, in the summer of 2004, all the while encountering multiple engagements. The missions where we helped soldiers on the ground always meant the most to me. I knew we were making a difference.”
Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Carl Fox, an AH-64D attack pilot assigned to Turner’s company, said he worked side by side with Turner for the better part of a decade.
“We’ve worked together for at least six years, and we’ve knew each other longer than that,” said Fox, who hails from Huntington, W.Va. They had the opportunity to fly together to secure Iraq’s elections during their 2009-2010 deployment, he added.
Despite battling a difficult operational environment in Iraq, Fox said, Turner helped to keep up the unit’s esprit de corps.
“He has a great sense of humor, and when you start flying for six to eight hours, jokes and stories are imperative,” Fox said. “He always knew how to put levity in a serious situation. It’s because of individuals like him that we still have an extremely tight group. There’s no doubt in my mind 1-227 is a battalion of heroes, and Turner has been an important part of that.”
Reflecting on the past 10 years brings back many fond memories and emotions, Turner said, noting he’ll miss his Army comrades after retirement.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “I’m going to miss the camaraderie and the soldiers I’ve met throughout the years.”