Virginia Guard’s longest serving aviator retires after nearly 42 years of service

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Norman H. McIntosh, the Virginia National Guard’s longest serving aviator, conducts his final flight as an Army warrant officer Aug. 17, 2010, to mark his retirement after nearly 42 years of service.  (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Va. Dept. of Military Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s longest serving aviator conducted a final flight Aug. 17 to mark his retirement after nearly 42 years of service. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Norman H. McIntosh officially retired Aug. 18 after taking off for the last time from the Army Aviation Support Facility in Sandston to take a final flight around the Richmond area.

“I’ll miss it,” McIntosh said at the end of his flight. “I made a lot of good friends. I am going to miss the flying and miss the people. We’ve done a lot of state duty, I was able to serve in Desert Storm and I just thank everyone.”

Before taking the final flight, Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, presented McIntosh with the Virginia National Guard Legion of Merit. McIntosh was awarded the Department of Defense Legion of Merit Aug. 8 at his final drill weekend.

“This is someone I consider to be a legend,” Long said. “What a great career he has had for the Virginia Guard and for our nation.”

After the award presentation, McIntosh thanked four groups of people: his family, who only knew him as a Soldier with a passion for flying; the state aviation officers, who oversaw the Virginia Guard’s flight operations; the maintenance personnel, who kept the aircraft fueled and in the air; and the flight surgeons, who made sure his body kept up with his will to continue flying.

Retired chief warrant officers Davey Crockett and Bill Outlaw joined McIntosh while his daughter Meg read a statement he prepared. Both Crockett and Outlaw served two tours of duty in Vietnam and the three men represented approximately 195 years of aviation experience and more than 33,000 flight hours.

“He may be the last to retire, but his retirement is symbolic of an end of an era for those of his generation who wrote the book on helicopter operations in war,” his daughter Meg read. “My dad truly appreciates the events of today and hopes this also brings recognition to the thousands of others who returned from Vietnam, continued to serve and brought aid and comfort to those in need.”

Not ready to give up flying, McIntosh said he plans to continue his service to the commonwealth by joining the aviation battalion of the Virginia Defense Force.

McIntosh joined the Army Oct. 16, 1968 and completed his pilot training Dec. 1, 1969. He served in Vietnam from March 1970 to March 1971 where he served as an aircraft commander for both Huey and Cobra helicopters in the 229th Aviation Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division.

During his service in Vietnam, McIntosh flew a total of 1,334 combat hours and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal and 54 Air Medals. He was also awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm and was presented the award by then-Vice President Spiro Agnew.

After he was released from active duty in 1971, McIntosh joined the Virginia National Guard. During his years of service in Virginia, he volunteered and participated in rescue and relief efforts for numerous disaster responses including Southwest Virginia floods in 1976, Shenandoah Valley and Southwest Virginia floods in 1985, Madison County flood in 1995 and Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

McIntosh flew medical evacuation missions from 1978 to 1995 and assisted in establishing the 986th Medical Detachment in 1978. The detachment was one of the first Army National Guard units mobilized from 1990 to 1991 for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and he deployed with the unit. The 986th was consolidated with the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment effective Sept. 1, 1995, and the Headquarters Company carries the two campaign streamers and Meritorious Unit Commendation earned by the 986th.

After the Army created the new chief warrant officer 5 rank, in 1996 McIntosh was the first aviator and the second warrant officer in Virginia to be appointed to the rank. Of his 41 years and 10 months of service, he spent 40 years and nine months as a rated aviator.

McIntosh is a native of Portsmouth and graduated from Cradock High School and graduated from Old Dominion University in 1974.

During his career, McIntosh has flown the Hughes TH-55, the Bell UH-1 Huey, the Bell AH-1G Cobra, the Hiller OH-23D Raven the Sikorsky CH-34 Choctaw and the Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk. He has a total of 5,600 flight hours. He is a UH-1 Instructor Pilot, a UH-60 Instructor Pilot and an Instrument Flight Examiner.