Last Vietnam-era pilot in New York Guard takes final flight Tuesday

Last Vietnam-era pilot in New York Guard takes final flight Tuesday

13-Jun-2011 Source: New York ANG

A New York Army National Guard pilot who flew helicopters during the Vietnam War in 1971/72, and again during two combat tours in Iraq, makes his final flight Tuesday, June 14 at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Latham.

Members of the media are invited to see Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Derry return from his final mission to the Latham flight facility and interview him about his career. He is the last Vietnam-era pilot still flying in the New York Army National Guard.

WHO: Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Derry, age 59, a Corinth resident, and members of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade and 3rd Battalion 142d Aviation Regiment.

WHAT: Final flight for a retiring pilot. Traditionally an aviator’s last flight is marked by a dousing with Champaign. Media will have an opportunity to speak to Derry about the changes he’s seen in Army aviation since he first started flight training in 1969.

WHEN: CW 5 Derry’s mission is due to end at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, June 14. Media should be present approximately 11:30 a.m.

WHERE: Army Aviation Support Facility 3, 330 Old Niskayuna Road, Latham, NY.

Coverage Opportunities:

Imagery of the UH-60 Blackhawk being flown by Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Derry landing and post landing event. Opportunity to interview CW5 Derry and other members of the New York Army National Guard Aviation community. Division of Military and Naval Affairs can provide B-roll of his preflight inspection and take-off if requested.


Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Derry, a resident of Corinth, enlisted in the United States Army in 1969 and trained to be a helicopter pilot, learning to fly at Fort Wolters, Texas and Fort Rucker Alabama. He had always wants to be in the Army and be a pilot.

“Way walk when I could fly,” he said when asked why he chose aviation over another branch like the Infantry.

He served in Vietnam in from 1971 to 1972 flying UH-1H “Huey” helicopters with the 176th Assault Helicopter Company of the 23rd Infantry Division in Chu Lai, Vietnam; and then with the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division as a member of the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion. At Bien Hoa, Vietnam. He flew troops, supplies and command support missions. During one mission his aircraft took fire, wounding the aircraft commander.

When he returned from Vietnam in March 1872 he left the Army, despite his wish to stay in, because of post-Vietnam reduction in force.

13 years later the New Jersey Native got his chance at living his military dream again when he joined the New Jersey National Guard in 1985, serving as a pilot in the 1st of the 150th Assault Helicopter Battalion. In 1988 he transferred to the New York Army National Guard when he moved to New York for job reasons. He has been stationed at the flight facility in Latham since then flying AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, and the UH-60 Blackhawk.

While a member of the New York National Guard he has deployed to Iceland, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Bosnia. He served in Iraq in 2005 as the Brigade Tactical Operations Officer for the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade and then a second time in 2008/2009 with the 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation.

He is currently on duty working with the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade for its CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Enhanced-yield Explosives) Consequence Management Response Force domestic operations mission.

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