Ken Koval

Ken Koval drives his patrol unit as a 30-year volunteer with the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Posse.

Almost 27 years in the Air Force -- including a lot of combat missions in the sky -- still isn't enough for Ken Koval. He stills finds lots of ways to serve.

For the last 30 years, he's been going out once a week as part of the Bossier Sheriff's Posse, volunteering his time to check on homes of those who are away, and making sure everything else is okay, too.

So what if he just turned 85.

One of the main reasons is I like being around people," Ken says of his volunteering.

And pretty soon, Ken will marshal the young troops at the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge to plant 3,000 flags in memory of the 9-11 attacks.

Ken is past state commander at the VFW, and is also active in the DAV. He still suits up as part of an Honor Guard, and helped create permanent memorials to fallen troops and female veterans.

He even has old mail boxes painted patriotically to help people dispose of the worn out American flags.

"I feel good because I did it," Ken says.

Something else Ken did was fly 221 missions in a B-52 in the Vietnam War. He was a tail gunner back when the B-52 had one.

Ken took part in Operation Linebacker, I and II, in 1972 to bomb the North Vietnamese to the peace table. But it came at a high cost. Dozens of our planes were shot down, with crews killed or taken prisoner.

"You never worried about the mission until after you come off it, coming back. You weren't scared up there seeing all the SAMs coming up at times," Ken recalled of watching enemy surface to air missiles.

"But after it was all over you were flying back, you're just sitting there, you're not doin' much," he continued. "Then you start worrying," Ken remembers feeling about what could've happened.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is among his medals. Ask him how how he feels about his service, and Ken quoted a passage from a military magazine.

"The mission was priority. Why? We had loved ones to protect. We had a town, county and country to protect. A way of life, right to freedom, worship, sweet freedom, mission priority," Ken read.

"That says it all," he added.

Ken learned to fly in the Air Force along the way to becoming a chief master sergeant. And in retirement he worked as a corporate pilot.

But Ken says the best thing about the Air Force was that it helped him meet his wife of 61 years now when he was based out of Lake Charles.


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