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Zinsmeister concludes career spanning three decades

Chief Master Sgt. Wade Zinsmeister retired from the U.S. Air Force and Kentucky Air National Guard during a ceremony at the 123rd Airlift Wing in Louisville, Ky., March 4, 2018. Zinsmeister, the component maintenance flight chief in the wing’s 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, served for more than 30 years.

Chief Master Sgt. Wade Zinsmeister retired from the U.S. Air Force and Kentucky Air National Guard during a ceremony at the 123rd Airlift Wing in Louisville, Ky., March 4, 2018. Zinsmeister, the component maintenance flight chief in the wing’s 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, served for more than 30 years. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Chief Master Sgt. Wade Zinsmeister retired from military service during a ceremony held here March 4, concluding a career that spanned more than 30 years of exemplary service. He served in both the active-duty Air Force and the Kentucky Air National Guard.

Zinsmeister began his military career vehicle mechanic in 1982, serving at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, and then overseas at Bitburg Air Base, Germany. He earned an honorable discharge from active duty in 1986 but really wasn’t ready to stop wearing the uniform.

“I had been out of the Air Force about four years, and I missed the military, the comradery and the excitement,” he said. “I wanted to go back to active duty, but they weren’t taking prior-service members. That’s when the recruiter asked if I wanted to join the Kentucky Air National Guard.

“I had to laugh. I’m from Louisville and have been here my whole life, but I didn’t know about the Guard or the 123rd,” he said.

As a member of the 123rd Airlift Wing, he spent most of his career serving the men and women of the Maintenance Group in a variety of posts. He deployed many times, supporting Operation Joint Forge in Germany, Operation Bright Star in Egypt, Operation Cope Thunder in Alaska and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

While the chief has served all over the world during his 30-year career, Zinsmeister said his most important memories revolve around the people with whom he served.

“Military people have similar values, like being trustworthy and working hard toward a common goal, and those are the people I like to hang around with,” he said. “I have enjoyed my career so much that, if I could, I would do it all over again. I just enjoy the military — always have.”