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    3rd Squadron, 17th Calvary Regiment honor Pilot with Final Flight

    3rd Squadron, 17th Calvary Regiment honors Pilot with Final Flight

    Photo By Sgt. Ryan Tatum | Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ernest “Tommy” Barela, an AH-64 Apache Helicopter pilot,...... read more read more

    HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, GA, UNITED STATES

    01.15.2019

    Story by Sgt. Ryan Tatum 

    3rd Combat Aviation Brigade

    As the sun crept through the clouds, the bright energizing red-orange hue painted the sky for what would be a surefire day to remember for an AH-64 Apache Helicopter to soar through the sky.

    Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 17th Calvary Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division gathered to honor Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ernest “Tommy” Barela, an AH-64 Apache Helicopter pilot, with his final flight, Jan. 10, at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., after 20 years of service to the Army and the Soldiers he has mentored through the years.

    The final flight is a tradition held in Aviation to honor the pilots and crew chiefs, which signifies the end of their Army career.

    Born and raised in Albuquerque, Barela, a New Mexico native knew at an early age that he wanted to be a pilot.

    “I started my career as an aircraft power plant repairer”, said Barela. “As much as I liked my job and taking care of Soldiers, I felt that if I could fix the aircraft then I should be able to fly it too.”

    In this moment as he spoke of his career, the sparks of light radiated as he smiled.

    In 2008, the war in Afghanistan was still very much active but a 15-month deployment did not deter Barela from completing his dream.

    “It was the success of the leaders around me at the time that really had a hand and influenced my career, said Barela. “We were able to submit my packet while still in Afghanistan and when we came back it was approved.”

    Barela then went to Warrant Officer Candidate School and Warrant Officer Flight Training program where he trained to be the AH-64 Apache Helicopter pilot.

    “Warrant Officer School was very demanding and it taught me etiquette and time management down to the second,” said Barela. “Flight school was just as demanding with hour-long bus rides even longer academic schedule.”

    After completing such demanding schools, Barela did not once faulter because the desires of his heart were met with God’s plan for his life and in turn his family maintained stability like ships in still waters.

    “After all the training, I was able to come to 3CAB and provided my family with the stability they needed to thrive and make it in today’s world,” said Barela.

    Barela is supported by Cathleen Barela his wife, and his two children.
    “We are best friends,” said Cathleen, spouse of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Barela. “It is our faith in God and in each other that keeps us centered and together.”

    Cathleen believed in Barela’s every step of the way and she noticed the same traits in their relationship.

    “He is the most dedicated, driven and selfless individual,” said Cathleen. “He has a work ethic where he gives 100 percent to everything he does. He is sincere in his approach to help people.”

    Barela trained many junior Soldiers and officer in his career and as he walked away from the AH-64 Apache Helicopter for the last time there one thing he would change in his Army career.

    “Keeping track of my flight hours,” said Barela. “Not trying to scrounge looking for .1 and .2 hours to log in the flight log.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 01.15.2019
    Date Posted: 01.15.2019 10:47
    Story ID: 307073
    Location: HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, GA, US 
    Hometown: ALBUQUERQUE, NM, US
    Hometown: JACKSONVILLE, FL, US
    Hometown: SAVANNAH, GA, US

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