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Dale concludes 38-year career with Kentucky Air Guard

Col. Ken Dale (right), outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, receives a certificate of retirement from retired Col. Michael Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during Dale’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale (right), outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, receives a certificate of retirement from retired Col. Michael Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during Dale’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale, outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, addresses the crowd during his retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale, outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, addresses the crowd during his retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale (right), outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, receives the Legion of Merit from retired Col. Michael Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during Dale’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale (right), outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, receives the Legion of Merit from retired Col. Michael Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during Dale’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale (right), outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, is pinned with the Distinguished Service Medal by retired Col. Michael Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during Dale’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale (right), outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, is pinned with the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal by retired Col. Michael Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during Dale’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale (right), outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, receives the Distinguished Service Medal from retired Col. Michael Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during Dale’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale (right), outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, receives the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal from retired Col. Michael Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, during Dale’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale, the outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, addresses the crowd during his retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base, Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Col. Ken Dale, the outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, addresses the crowd during his retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base, Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale is retiring after more than 38 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Retired Col. Michael Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, speaks at a retirement ceremony for Col. Ken Dale at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale, outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, served the Kentucky Air National Guard for 38 years. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Retired Col. Michael Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, speaks at a retirement ceremony for Col. Ken Dale at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 1, 2018. Dale, outgoing commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, served the Kentucky Air National Guard for 38 years. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With hundreds of family, friends and colleagues in attendance, Col. Kenneth Dale retired from military service during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here Dec. 1, concluding 38 years of service.

Presiding over the ceremony was retired Col. Michael L. Harden, former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing and a close friend of Dale’s.

“Thirty-eight years to support and defend the Constitution, 38 years of serving your country, from Airman basic to colonel, from the enlisted side to group command, Kenny, I think you have done your duty,” Harden said. “You have done it with honor, with excellence and with the spirit of helpfulness and pride that will go unmatched.

“The fact that all these folks are out here today, your co-workers, family and friends, is a testament to the respect they hold for you and your career,” he continued.

Dale enlisted in the Kentucky Air National Guard in 1980 as a jet engine mechanic on RF-4C Phantom II aircraft. He graduated from the University of Louisville and was commissioned through the Air National Guard Academy of Military Science in 1987. Dale then attended undergraduate pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, and went on to become a C-130 evaluator, instructor and functional-check pilot with more than 5,000 hours flight hours.

During his career, Dale has held a variety of operational and support assignments at the flight, squadron, group and wing levels. He has deployed in support of multiple contingencies, exercises and related missions including Operations Provide Promise, Provide Hope, Joint Forge, Coronet Oak and Enduring Freedom. Notable assignments include serving as the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group deputy commander at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, where he earned the Bronze Star Medal for ground operations, and the Air Medal and the Aerial Achievement Medal for air combat operations.

“When I started thinking about retirement, I started thinking about how I got here after 38 years, and then I figured it out,” Dale told the audience. “It’s because I’m wealthy; I’m one of the wealthiest guys here, and I come from one of the wealthiest families around. You’ve got to be wealthy to work here.

“I’m not talking about money, houses or cars. I’m talking about the wealth that truly, truly matters. That’s having a great family, a supportive spouse, great co-workers and fantastic friends. In that respect, I am one of the wealthiest guys around. In this business, if you can’t have that, it makes this job that much harder. This ceremony is a celebration of all of the people who got me where I need to be. I am a product of my environment, and luckily for me, I had a lot of people who guided me and helped me reach my goal.”

Prior to his retirement, Dale served as commander of the 123rd Maintenance Group, where he was responsible for aircraft maintenance activity for a combat-proven airlift wing with approximately eight permanently assigned C-130H aircraft. He controlled and directed the activities of more than 230 assigned personnel, managed an annual budget in excess of $110,000, and developed and implemented plans to meet wing operational taskings.

Dale also developed Maintenance University, a benchmark deployed annual training event dedicated to providing maintenance personnel with hands-on training at a level difficult to receive at home station, resulting in more knowledgeable maintainers and safe, reliable aircraft.