Tribute to Paul Koesterby Senator Dean Heller
Posted on 2015-12-03
HELLER. Mr. President, today I wish to congratulate Paul
Koester on his retirement after over 41 years of service to the U.S.
Air Force. It gives me great pleasure to recognize his years of
dedication to protecting our country and our State.
Mr. Koester grew up in Colorado Springs, CO, and later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1974 with the intention of serving 4 years as a jet engine mechanic. During his time in basic training, he decided to change course and test to become a pararescue airman. After successfully passing his training, he spent the next 4 years at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska as part of the 71st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. During his time serving in this squadron, he was credited with saving over 75 lives.
From 1980 to 1986, Mr. Koester served at McClellan Air Force Base in California and Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. He soon after decided to join the Air National Guard. For the next 16 years, Mr. Koester served in the 102nd Rescue Squadron at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in New York. On September 11, 2001, Mr. Koester and his squadron assisted as first responders during the collapse of the World Trade Center, aiding in saving the lives of many victims of the attack. His bravery and selflessness during this time of crisis will never be forgotten.
Three weeks later, Mr. Koester was deployed to the border of Kuwait and Iraq to serve as part of Operation Southern Watch. Following his return from this mission, Mr. Koester made the decision to resume Active Duty and was sent to Nellis Air Force Base in 2003 as part of the 58th Rescue Squadron. He concluded his service with this unit after 12 years of service. At his 60th birthday celebration, Mr. Koester was recognized as the oldest enlisted member actively serving in the Air Force and the longest serving pararescue airman with 13 deployments throughout his career. Our country and the Silver State are fortunate to have had someone of such dedication serving to protect our freedoms.
As a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, I have had no greater honor than the opportunity to engage with the men and women who served in our Nation's military. I recognize Congress has a responsibility not only to honor the brave individuals who serve our Nation, but also to ensure they are cared for when they return home. I remain committed to upholding this promise for veterans like Mr. Koester in Nevada and throughout the Nation.
Mr. Koester has demonstrated professionalism, commitment to excellence, and dedication to the highest standards of the U.S. Air Force. I am proud to call him a fellow Nevadan, and I ask my colleagues to join me today in recognizing Mr. Koester for his years of service and in congratulating him on his retirement. I wish him well in all of his future endeavors.