Hero Firefighter Enters His Third Tour in Iraq
In 2003, David Kean greets his daughter, Jenna Kean, then 4, after returning from service in Iraq as a military helicopter pilot. Kean is now on his third Iraq deployment, scheduled to end in September. (Press-Telegram)
Long Beach Press-Telegram
March 10, 2010
During his first two deployments, David Kean worked as a helicopter pilot. This deployment, he is a fixed wing pilot, where most of the principles and rules are the same, he said.
“The biggest difference between the two is the altitudes we fly,” he said. “In the helicopter world, everything is done at very low altitudes. Fixed wing is the opposite. We take off and head up. We spend a lot of our time at an altitude of 25,000 feet or more. Our fixed-wing aircraft are pressurized and our helicopters are not.”
This deployment gives him a chance to better his skills as an airplane pilot, he said.
“I have only been in fixed wing for about a year so I am still learning,” he said. “As any Army aviator will tell you, flying in the combat theater is a new challenge, and it has a steep learning curve. I learn something new every day and on every mission, and I am enjoying every minute of it.”
Although both his military and civilian careers have similarities, there a big difference.
“This particular tour it’s been quite a bit different. With the Fire Department, I’m on the ground driving around the city,” he said. “Here, I’m always in the air. There’s not a whole lot of parallel.”
Throughout his three tours, he has seen some major changes in Iraq.
“Some of the biggest differences have been, when I was here in 2003 the place was a mess; no power, no police, no fire departments, no farming,” he said. “Now there’s an infrastructure. It has significantly improved from the first time I was here.”
The fact that he loves his military job and is committed to his obligations, hasn’t made being away from home easy.
“I’m kind of used to this now, but it’s always challenging to be away from your family. You leave for a year, and you come back and your daughter looks different and is talking different,” he said. “I’m very fortunate in my job here, we’re really busy so I don’t think about it (being away from home) that much. But my wife is there and she’s taking care of everything and she’s used to having a husband there, so that’s always challenging.”
Koreen Kean has had to endure her own hardships during her husband’s deployments.
“He has missed some of our children’s lives,” she said.
During his first deployment he missed the birth of his youngest daughter.