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Coleman retires, concluding a career spanning more than three decades

Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst (left), Kentucky's assistant adjutant general for Air, presents the certificate of retirement to Col. Nicholas Coleman during Coleman’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 15, 2018. Coleman’s career spanned more than 30 years in both the active-duty Air Force and Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Vicky Spesard)

Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst (left), Kentucky's assistant adjutant general for Air, presents the certificate of retirement to Col. Nicholas Coleman during Coleman’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 15, 2018. Coleman’s career spanned more than 30 years in both the active-duty Air Force and Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Vicky Spesard)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Col. Nicholas Coleman retired from military service during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base Sept. 15, concluding a career that spanned more than 30 years.

“In the '90s and 2000s, you have participated in every major military Air Force operation — and you’re the epitome of cool, calm and collected,” said Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, Kentucky's Assistant Adjutant General for Air and fellow pilot, during the ceremony. “You’re an icon for aviation and professionalism for the wing, the squadron and Joint Force Headquarters. It has been a pleasure flying with you and serving with you over these past several years. You will be missed.”

Coleman last served as the A-3 director of operations for Joint Force Headquarters—Kentucky. He began his career 31 years ago as a cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps at Texas Tech University. He was selected as the vice corps commander his senior year and was an ROTC distinguished graduate.

Coleman graduated from Air Force pilot training in 1989 and was assigned to Vance Air Force Base, Okla., as a T-37 instructor pilot. He was a distinguished graduate from pilot instructor training and taught students basic flying skills, instrument flying, aerobatics and formation flying. During his tour, he served as an assistant flight commander, military training officer, runway supervisory unit controller and a standardization and evaluation check pilot.

After three years as a T-37 instructor pilot, Coleman was assigned to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, to fly the C-130 Hercules. While there, Coleman upgraded to C-130 aircraft commander, instructor pilot and evaluator pilot. He deployed multiple times to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, for Operation Southern Watch, flew humanitarian operations in Somalia and was hand-selected to fly the deputy lead position for operation Big Drop III, which was then the largest U.S. and British airdrop since World War II. He also served as the chief of the 39th Tactical Airlift Squadron’s standards and evaluation section.

In 1997, Coleman left the active-duty Air Force and joined the 302nd Reserve Airlift Wing, where he flew several consecutive deployments to locations throughout the Middle East as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina. While serving with the Reserve, Coleman started his commercial pilot career in 1998 as a flight officer for the United Parcel Service. He transferred to the Kentucky Air National Guard later that year.

In his 18 years here, Coleman was selected for multiple flying and leadership positions including C-130 instructor, evaluator, and chief pilot. Coleman flew in support of operation Joint Forge in Germany, expeditionary operations in Oman and Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as combat operations in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He is a Senior Command Pilot with 10,000 military and civilian flying hours.

“When go out with the C-130, you can be out for a long time and you get to bond and become friends with the people out there with you, and that’s great,” Coleman said, addressing the audience of friends, family and co-workers. “I want to thank my wife and also my mom and dad, who always knew I would go into the military somehow. I began playing with airplanes when I was in elementary school and still do it today.”