Farewell flight ceremony held for airborne pilots

Spc. Kaleb Turner, left, CW4 Jeff Robitaille and CW3 John Foster stand in front of their Black Hawk helicopter before thier final flight June 24 at Todd Field. (Photos by Markeith Horace / MCoE PAO Photographer)

Spc. Kaleb Turner, left, CW4 Jeff Robitaille and CW3 John Foster stand in front of their Black Hawk helicopter before thier final flight June 24 at Todd Field. (Photos by Markeith Horace / MCoE PAO Photographer)

By Gerald Williams, Bayonet & Saber /

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jeff Robitaille, Chief Warrant Officer 3 John Foster and Spc. Kaleb Turner performed their final flight June 24 as pilots and crew of Ranger Flight Company, 4th Ranger Training Battalion.

CW3 John Foster prepares to embark on his final flight June 24 at Todd Field. (Photo by Markeith Horace / MCoE PAO Photographer)

CW3 John Foster prepares to embark on his final flight June 24 at Todd Field.

Their final flight was in support of Rangers in Action where U.S. Army Rangers carried out a mission involving helocasting, and performing the Special Purpose Insertion Extraction System and the Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System. The mission was completed using a Black Hawk helicopter.

Their flight was followed by a ceremony that involved Family and friends as they celebrated the pilots’ last mission as part of the 4th Ranger Training Battalion.

The Black Hawk performs a ground taxi between two fire trucks in celebration of the two pilots retiring June 24 at Lawson Airfield. (Photo by Markeith Horace / MCoE PAO Photographer)

The Black Hawk performs a ground taxi between two fire trucks in celebration of the two pilots retiring June 24 at Lawson Airfield.

After the mission, the pilots performed a ground taxi between two streams of water jettisoned from fire trucks.

The pilots agreed that it was a bittersweet send off.

“It’s all been very surreal. At 15 years, we’re all just starting fresh after this. I’m going to enjoy the next couple of months, I’m sure of it, but I’m also sure I’ll look back on my experience here and miss everything,” said Robitaille.

Service members dump ice cold water on CW4 Jeff Robitaille, left, CW3 John Foster and Spc. Kaleb Turner after their final flight June 24 at Lawson Airfield. (Photo by Markeith Horace / MCoE PAO Photographer)

Service members dump ice cold water on CW4 Jeff Robitaille, left, CW3 John Foster and Spc. Kaleb Turner after their final flight June 24 at Lawson Airfield.

“I’ve been flying for a little over 11 years. Luckily for me, I still fly because I work for the military department. But to end something I’ve been doing for a huge part of my life is a change that I’ll have to get used to,” said Foster.

“This demonstration specifically is one of the only times that your Family and friends can see you flying and see what you do day in and day out in person. A lot of people are involved in the ceremony, like the fire department, so it’s a great feeling to see everyone coming together for this. They treat Soldiers very well,” said Foster.

“The Army has pushed me to my limits and let me know I could handle more than I thought I could handle. It’s given me life experiences and professional experiences that will help me in the future,” said Foster.

“Most of all, the Army has taught me discipline across the board. That it is required not only to do your job, but to provide for your Family as well. It’s taught me to be a better father, a better person and a better friend.”

“I think people who join will see that there is so much to see in the world. Not everyone is the same,” said Robitaille. “People halfway around the world aren’t as far away as they used to be. People will influence you. Once you realize what that means, you’ll see that it’s a good thing.”

“You learn leadership skills and values you can use your whole life. It just makes you a better person all around,” said Turner.

View more photos at Fortbenningphotos.com.

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