HomeNewsArticle Display

Airman Serves for 50 Years

170603-Z-BD327-114: U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Skotte, the commander of the 146th Airlift Wing Medical Group, speaks to the assembled crowd following his official retirement after serving for nearly 50 years, June 3, 2017, at Kingsley Field, Ore.  His remarks touched upon his reasons for entering the service in 1967 and at times the emotion of the moment was evident in his voice while he and the crowd shared a laugh during lighter moments. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Riley Johnson)

170603-Z-BD327-114: U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Skotte, the commander of the 146th Airlift Wing Medical Group, speaks to the assembled crowd following his official retirement after serving for nearly 50 years, June 3, 2017, at Kingsley Field, Ore. His remarks touched upon his reasons for entering the service in 1967 and at times the emotion of the moment was evident in his voice while he and the crowd shared a laugh during lighter moments. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Riley Johnson)

170603-Z-BD327-068: U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Skotte, the commander of the146th Airlift Wing Medical Group, accepts his certificate of retirement from Brig. Gen. Clay Garrison, the commander of the California Air National Guard, at Kingsley Field, June 3, 2017. Skotte tallies just days short of a full 50 years of service and is likely the longest serving Airman to date. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Riley Johnson)

170603-Z-BD327-068: U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Skotte, the commander of the146th Airlift Wing Medical Group, accepts his certificate of retirement from Brig. Gen. Clay Garrison, the commander of the California Air National Guard, at Kingsley Field, June 3, 2017. Skotte tallies just days short of a full 50 years of service and is likely the longest serving Airman to date. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Riley Johnson)

170603-Z-NJ935-044: A crowd gathered for the official retirement ceremony for Col. Daniel Skotte, the commander of the 146 Airlift Wing Medical Group, Channel Islands Air National Guard Base, Calif., who served for just a few days short of 50 years, June 3, 2017. Skotte, a drill status guardsman opted to have the ceremony at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., because of his over 20 year association with the wing and because of its proximity to his home in Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt.
Jefferson Thompson)

170603-Z-NJ935-044: A crowd gathered for the official retirement ceremony for Col. Daniel Skotte, the commander of the 146 Airlift Wing Medical Group, Channel Islands Air National Guard Base, Calif., who served for just a few days short of 50 years, June 3, 2017. Skotte, a drill status guardsman opted to have the ceremony at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., because of his over 20 year association with the wing and because of its proximity to his home in Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --

Col. Daniel M. Skotte, 146th Medical Group Commander, officially retired from the Air National Guard as potentially the longest serving member from the National Guard and the United States Air Force June 3, 2017, at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore.

During the ceremony he recounted that it all began as a 7-year-old gopher hunter in Minnesota.

“When I looked up and saw those jets, I thought maybe I could give up gopher hunting so I could fly a fighter jet,” he said.

Skotte joined the community of Airmen half a century ago, at the age of 17, when he arrived at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas for Basic Military Training in June, 1967. In 1968 he attended United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School and then the United States Air Force Academy where he earned a degree and a commission in 1972.  

While at the Academy his stature allowed him to play left tackle, but unfortunately this kept him from the cockpit as he was too tall for the airframes of that time. He mentioned this frustratingly derailed his plans to fly.

“At this point I was a morale case and I would have separated from the Air Force if I could,” he said.

Instead, his career took him to El Segundo, Calif., where he served in Space and Missile Systems Organization, and Skotte noted that his perspective on his career shifted and he happily stepped into his new role.

He went on to say that in one of life’s surprising twists he became a Doctor of Osteopathy and that nearly anyone who knew him then could not have foreseen that happening. This in turn led him to the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field in 1995, where he became a flight surgeon.

Over the ensuing years he flew in the back seat, and attained more than 900 hours in the F-15D Eagle, F-16 Falcon, and C-130 Hercules. His duties took him to places like Iraq, New Guinea, Kuwait, Poland and Finland and to various stations in the United States.

His last duty station was at Channel Islands ANG, Calif., where he served as the 146th Wing Medical Group Commander. However, he chose to conduct his retirement ceremony at the 173rd FW at Kingsley Field to commemorate an association spanning more than 20 years.

Skotte’s years in service span from June of 1967 to June of 2017; records show him a scant few days short of 50 years of service. Efforts are still underway to determine if he was indeed the longest serving Airman in the history of either the U.S. Air Force or the Air National Guard.