Chief Master Sgt Davide Keaton, superintendent of 26th Special Tactics Squadron in the US, has retired after 30 years of service as pararescue chief. During his service, Keaton won many accolades, including major command pararescueman of the year, Pitsenbarger Award valor under fire, AF pararescue senior NCO of the year, and the AF Lance P.Sijan senior NCO of the year.
“It’s not just retiring a Special Tactics Chief,” said Col Michael Flattern, vice-commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing at a special ceremony on 12 January. “It’s retiring a close friend, a brother in arms, one of my heroes… and one of the best men Special Tactics ever produced.”
Keaton originally joined the US Army as part of the Security Forces before transferring to the pararescue service in 1992. Over the course of his career, Keaton attained paramedic, static line and freefall jumpmaster and dive medical tech qualifications.
“In every annual report, Dave’s maturity, drive, professionalism, pursuit of training, selfless service and focus on the team is high,” added Flattern. “He continued to save people, on the battlefield and off… including two military working dogs.”
Keaton was deployed over 15 times throughout his career. He said at the ceremony: “I love pararescue; I loved my career, I love the men I served with and the ST community as a whole. That’s why I stuck around it for so long: it was home for me.”