News: 1st CAB says goodbye To 31 year aviator
Story by Capt. Andrew Cochran
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Chief Warrant Officer 5 Curtis Bell, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade’s safety officer and chief warrant officer for the brigade, made his final flight as an Army Aviator at Mustang Ramp April 7.
Amidst the cheers from his fellow aviators, Bell was hosed down from a fire hose by a fellow aviator, the traditional last flight ritual for retiring aviators.
“The wetting down of a retiring pilot is a tribute to the many years of professionalism and service to our nation by not only him, but his family as well,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ron Porter, the brigade master gunner.
Porter likened hosing down a retiring pilot as similar to icing down a football coach after winning the big game or spraying champagne on the winning driver of a NASCAR race.
Bell, who is retiring almost immediately following the CAB’s return to Fort Riley, took to the skies of Afghanistan in an UH-60 Black Hawk. Upon landing, Bell taxied under an arch of water provided by the Mustang Ramp Fire Department’s fire trucks.
“When I joined the Army, aviation wasn't a branch,” said Bell. “I first started out as signal guy repairing helicopter avionics, and a lot has changed since then. The professionalism of the maintainers and pilots hasn't changed, so thank you all for what you do every day, and I appreciate everyone coming out to see me today.”
Bell’s 31 years of service to the Army included over 2,800 flight hours, postings ranging from Fort Bragg to United States Army Europe and deployments ranging from Operation Restore Hope in Somalia to his current posting here in Regional Command—South, Afghanistan, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
“For Curtis, serving in almost every conflict or military action in the last 30 years is an accomplishment worthy of our highest respect,” Porter said.
Bell plans to retire to San Antonio, Texas, with his wife, three sons, and four horses.