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    AMCOM’s aviation warrant officer retires 34 years from date of enlistment

    Retirement Ceremony

    Photo By Kari Hawkins | The Aviation and Missile Command’s Chief Warrant Officer 5 Leon Cardona receives his...... read more read more



    Story by Kari Hawkins 

    U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command

    It can be both nerve racking and emotional when a chief warrant officer with 34 years of experience leaves military service.

    This was the case Oct. 19 when Chief Warrant Officer 5 Leon Cardona, the Aviation and Missile Command’s Aviation Branch Maintenance Officer, retired from active duty during a ceremony at Bob Jones Auditorium.

    Calling experienced chief warrant officers like Cardona the Army’s “secret power,” AMCOM commander Maj. Gen. Doug Gabram admitted to Cardona’s family that he was nervous about losing Cardona’s experience and skill set.

    “What he did and how many people he touched, it’s hard to put into words,” Gabram said. “His career has included a total of six years of combat time starting with Operation Desert Shield/Storm, and including Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. He touched a lot of Soldiers, a lot of units and the mark he left behind is exceptional.”

    Two of the units Cardona served with as either a battalion maintenance officer or brigade maintenance officer were recognized as outstanding aviation units of the year by the Army Aviation Association of America, the 1-52nd Aviation Battalion in 2007 and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade in 2012.

    “When he’s on a team, he makes everyone else better,” Gabram said. “He did some pretty amazing things. He did them because he loved the brothers and sisters to his left and right. He flew broken helicopters in for repairs. He flew many aircraft behind enemy lines. That’s who Leon Cardona is.”

    As AMCOM’s Aviation Branch maintenance officer, Cardona was responsible for ensuring success of maintenance and sustainment for the entire Army aviation branch. He received a Legion of Merit at his retirement ceremony in recognition of his accomplishments.

    “Leon Cardona used his experience to give back to Soldiers in the field,” Gabram said. “Leon Cardona is always the guy on point. When he shows up, everybody knows him. He’s the secret weapon behind the curtain.”

    Cardona retired on the very date – Oct. 19 – that he enlisted in the Army in 1983. He began his career as a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter repairman, becoming a warrant officer and OH-58A Kiowa Scout pilot ten years later.

    “The recruiter picked me up early that morning to take me to the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) and start the path I’ve been on for basically a lifetime,” Cardona said.

    He thanked his family for their support and especially his mother, who brought Cardona and his siblings to the U.S.

    “As a teenager, I was unaware of the sacrifices you made. But, as I matured, I began to understand and appreciate the depth of your resolve and I tried to live my life by your example,” he said.

    In his comments to his military family, he thanked the general officers who trusted him to manage their aviation maintenance programs, fellow warrant officers who set high standards for their profession, and the enlisted Soldiers whose support allowed him to be successful both at his duty stations and during five combat tours.

    He also thanked the Army’s civilian and contractor corps, saying that he did not realize until working at AMCOM “how much it is you influence the support given to our Soldiers all over the world. Continuity of our Army rests with you. The ripple effect of the acquisition and sustainment decisions made here are felt way down the line by our young men and women making missions happen. Thank you for making the hard right calls and keeping our Soldiers at the forefront of your decisions.”

    Cardona said his positive impact as a warrant officer was made possible by the sacrifices of many to create an environment of success.

    “I will miss the camaraderie of being part of a remarkable team,” Cardona said.



    Date Taken: 10.20.2017
    Date Posted: 10.20.2017 11:56
    Story ID: 252443

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