As Chief Warrant Officer Tom Bain brought his plane to a rest Feb. 22, the aircraft was sprayed by ground crews. No, it wasn’t an emergency landing. It was Bain’s last flight.
continued Bain has served in Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Drum and the Republic of South Korea. He has served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and hazardous duty tours in Central and South America.
Army tradition allows pilots to make their final flight one of their own choosing.
“I decided to take my final flight out over the Grand Canyon in Arizona,” Bain said. “I had never seen the Grand Canyon and it is within easy flight distance of my Army base at Fort Bliss (El Paso, Texas). It is a majestic sight. Even from 16,000 feet the canyon’s vivid colors and grand scale are apparent. It made for a memorable last flight.
“As I made my final trip as an Army pilot, I thought back to my first flight. I recall Mr. Daughtry, my instructor, flying us out to a huge field near Fort Rucker, Ala., and after briefly describing how the controls worked he let me have them. That UH-1 helicopter reacted like a bucking bronco. I was all over the place as Mr. Daughtry calmly sat there and let me struggle with the aircraft. After what seemed like an eternity, he took over again and settled everything down. He was calm and reassuring when he stated that even though I had no tangible control touch at that time that we had not crashed and that was a good start.
“I would get better as the year went by, and one of my proudest moments was when they pinned those Aviator Wings upon my chest,” he said. “I now wear Master Aviator Wings and still find adventure in every flight, just not as exciting as that first one.”
As Bain nears retirement, he’s appreciative of the support he’s received from family and others.
“The service to my country is not a solo event,” he said. “I have to give great credit to my wife of 20 years, Christine, and my children, Tommy and Caitlin. Without their support, a career in the military would not have been possible. I am eternally grateful for the support they gave me throughout the years and am sorry for the sacrifices and challenges they faced in my many absences.
“In all my time in the military, I never felt any animosity or disrespect from the American public I served,” he added. “While my retirement paperwork will say thank you from a grateful nation, I believe that sentiment goes both ways. Thank you, from a grateful soldier.
“I look forward to the challenges ahead, and thank everyone back home for their support throughout the years,” Bain said. “It has been a great flight.”