Hurst retires from Kentucky Air Guard, concluding 34-year career

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Vicky Spesard
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Brig. Gen. Warren H. Hurst, Kentucky’s outgoing assistant adjutant for Air, officially retired Nov. 16 during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here, concluding more than 34 years of service to the active-duty Air Force and Kentucky Air Guard.

Army Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Hogan, adjutant general of the Kentucky National Guard, praised Hurst during the ceremony for his dedication and service to the Commonwealth.

“It was obvious when we first met that I had a partner that would go to the mat with me, and that no matter what happened, he would be standing there beside me,” Hogan told an audience of more than 200 Airmen, friends and family. “He is willing to walk through fire for this organization, and he has for all of you.

“I don’t know if you all know how much he cares for you, and the love he has for this organization,” Hogan added. “Sir, it is my absolute pleasure to have taken this journey with you over the past four years.”

As assistant adjutant general, Hurst served as the principle advisor to Hogan on matters pertaining to the Air Guard, including strategic plans, programs, policies and air operations. He also was responsible for the overall management of the state’s flying unit, the Louisville-based 123rd Airlift Wing.

Hurst — the first Hispanic general officer in the Kentucky National Guard — was appointed assistant adjutant general in 2014. Before that, he served as commander of Kentucky’s 123rd Airlift Wing from 2012 to 2013.

While under his command, units in the Kentucky Air Guard earned three U.S. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, one U.S. Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, one National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation, three Distinguished Flying Unit Plaques and one Metcalf Trophy as the top airlift unit in the Air National Guard.

Furthermore, the Kentucky Air Guard’s 223rd Intelligence Flight, as the National Security Agency’s expert in developing access to unique intelligence sources, achieved success in providing actionable intelligence that guided U.S. national policy and directly resulted in an updated presidential executive order.

In 2007, Hurst stood up and commanded Kentucky’s 123rd Contingency Response Group — the only operational CRG in the Air National Guard — and is qualified as a Joint Task Force-Port Opening commander. He also served as the 1st Air Force director of mobility forces for eight homeland security/homeland defense exercises and coordinated civil-military air relief efforts during the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

“To all of you, thank you for being here — but also thank you for your service to our country and our state,” Hurst said, addressing the audience.

“We’re a busy unit. We’re gone all the time — Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria. You name a hot spot, and chances are, a Kentucky Air Guardsman is there. If we’re not there on the ground with Special Tactics calling in air strikes or rescuing people, we might be there in the cyber world thanks to our 223rd Intel personnel, who have had effects on the battlefield that none of us will ever know.”

Hurst praised each of the wing’s units for their record of sustained excellence and encouraged young Airmen to take advantage of deployment opportunities as a fulfilling experience.

"It has been a true pleasure to be a part of the Kentucky Air National Guard,” he added. “I’d like to thank General Hogan for giving me the opportunity to serve longer than I had even anticipated. It has been an honor working with you, sir. Under your leadership, we’ve made incredible improvements in operational readiness, our war-fighting capability, our force-management objectives and, most importantly, our culture.

“I’ve had a great career, and this is an exciting transition for me,” Hurst concluded. “I feel ‘mission-complete’ because of the extremely competent and qualified teams we have in place. Thanks to my fellow general officers, (Brigadier) General Jeff Wilkinson and (Brigadier) General Charles Walker, to Colonel (David) Mounkes and all the group commanders. Our working partnerships have been extremely fruitful, and they are something I will always cherish.

“I’m very excited for the future of this organization. I’m very proud of each one of you, your units, and how you continue to excel. I look forward to following your successes and saying, ‘Yeah, it was great to be part of that team.’ God bless all of you.”

Hurst has held staff positions at the Tanker Airlift Control Center and at Headquarters, Air Mobility Command. He has flown numerous C-130 combat and humanitarian relief operations worldwide, including missions in Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, Central and South America and the Middle East.

He is a combat veteran and command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours. During 14 years of active duty, he served in various operational and headquarters staff assignments, including duty as an instructor and evaluator pilot for the 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern.

Hurst later served an active-duty tour with the Kentucky Air National Guard prior to joining the unit as a traditional Guardsman in 2000.

He also played a key role during United States European Command’s global engagement war game, helping develop new multi-domain concepts for integrated and synchronized combat operations.

Just recently, Hurst was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard. The medal is awarded to members of the United States military who distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service in duties of great responsibility.

“Warren was all about doing what’s right through professionalism and commitment,” Rice said upon presenting the award. “He had the focus to do what was right, to find that balance and stay consistently true to our values. He did that here on a level that I have never seen before.”