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Fink concludes 42-year career in U.S. Air Force, Kentucky Air National Guard

Chief Master Sgt. David Fink (right) is presented with a Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal by Brig. Gen. Mark Kraus, Kentucky’s assistant adjutant general for Air, during a retirement ceremony held in Fink’s honor at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on March 17, 2013. Fink, the chief enlisted manager for force support at Joint Forces Headquarters—Kentucky, served in the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard for 42 years. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Joshua Horton)

Chief Master Sgt. David Fink (right) is presented with a Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal by Brig. Gen. Mark Kraus, Kentucky’s assistant adjutant general for Air, during a retirement ceremony held in Fink’s honor at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on March 17, 2013. Fink, the chief enlisted manager for force support at Joint Forces Headquarters—Kentucky, served in the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard for 42 years. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Joshua Horton)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Chief Master Sgt. David Fink was honorably retired from the Kentucky Air National Guard during a ceremony held March 17 at the 123rd Airlift Wing, closing out a military career spanning 42 years of dedicated service.

Family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Base Annex to pay tribute to Fink, who began his career as an aircraft maintenance machinist in 1971 and concluded his service as the chief enlisted manager for force support at Joint Forces Headquarters-Kentucky.

During the ceremony, Fink was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal and a 40-year service plaque, all of which were presented to him by Brig. Gen. Mark Kraus, Kentucky's assistant adjutant general for Air.

"You don't get to see too many of these," Kraus said of the 40-year plaque. "For those of you who are in this unit today and have been since Sept. 11, 2001, and have known nothing but war, I dare say that not many of you will stay or will want to stay for 40 years like Chief Fink.

"Twenty will be enough by the time you get to that point, and I want to thank you for your service," he continued. "If you can stay for 40 years, I think the chief would recommend that. So thanks, chief, for all that you've done here."

Fink joined the Kentucky Air National Guard as a traditional Guardsman shortly after graduating from high school. He began his full-time military technician career as a structural repair specialist supporting the RF-4C Phantom II aircraft in 1975.

Fink became the noncommissioned officer in charge of the aircraft maintenance machine shop in 1990. He broadened his career in the spring of 1992 when he became the first sergeant for the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, deploying in support of operations in Germany, Panama and Kenya.

In 2004, Fink was chosen to be the supervisor of the aircraft structural repair shop. He deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in 2007 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as the superintendent of operations. Fink's other deployments included Operations Iraqi Freedom, Restore Hope, Provide Promise and Joint Forge.

After retiring from the technician force in 2008, Fink continued to serve as the traditional maintenance group superintendent. His outstanding leadership played a key role in the 123rd Airlift Wing's receipt of an "excellent" rating during the nation's first Homeland Defense Operational Readiness Inspection in 2010, Kraus said.

Certificates of appreciation were presented during the ceremony to Fink's wife and mother, both of whom he thanked for their support throughout his career.

"Every time I would go on a deployment, my mother would get the map out to see where I was going and ask me if would be safe, and I would always say yes," the chief said. "I don't know if she believed me, but it was always good.

"To my wife," he continued, "thank God I found you, and thank you for believing in the Guard as much as I do."

Fink saved his final remarks for his much-beloved maintenance team members.

"Even though I am retiring out of Joint Forces Headquarters, my heart has always been with maintenance," he said. "It has been my privilege to work with you, and you will have a special place with me always."