Taking care of people taking care of business

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Julie Briden-Garcia
  • 301st Fighter Wing
Growing up in a family of five brothers and sisters in Bronx, N. Y., a boy can get himself into some serious trouble unless your father is a Army Reserve Chief Warrant Officer-04 of 44 years and a New York city police officer to boot.

Ken Bachelor, born on Veterans Day, was destined to make a name for himself. After his father retired from the police department in 1971, the family moved to Longwood, Fla., where Ken finished up his secondary level education and soon married his high school sweetheart, Sharon.

His father didn't make life easy said Col. Bachelor. "With five kids to raise, there wasn't a lot of money to go around. He said that if I wanted to go to college, I was going to have to pay for it myself. " So, for the next eight years he went to school part-time at Rollins College, near Orlando, Fla., at night to work on his bachelor's degree in business management. When not at school, he worked days running a local door factory as a worker and later a manager, building and assembling interior and exterior doors -- until an event changed his life.

While attending an air show in 1980, he met a U.S. Navy pilot who talked to him about becoming a pilot. The 25-year-old Bachelor had thought, until then, that he was too old to become a military pilot, but found out he was in fact still eligible, age wise. Having talked it over with his wife, he joined the Air Force in August '81 with a pilot slot and graduated Officer Training School that December. After graduating pilot training in 1982, Ken was close to realizing his childhood dream to become a fighter pilot. Years of active duty flight training followed in the F-4 aircraft culminating with a stint as an instructor pilot for the German Luftwaffe at George Air Force Base in California.

Col. Bachelor continued his active duty flying until 1989 where he came to rest with the 301st Fighter Wing in June of that year. He continued to fly F-4s at Carswell until the wing's transition to the F-16 Fighting Falcon in 1991.

He is now the wing's vice commander and has been married for almost 30 years. His 23-year-old twins are now grown with his son, Chris, graduating from Air Force pilot training on Dec. 15 and his daughter, Christina, working her way through college in the local area.

His philosophy is simple -- take care of your people. "I want to continue to take care of the folks who continue to take care of us. I truly believe that if you take care of the people, they'll take care of the mission."

One of his goals in life as second in command is to 'take things off of people's plates.' "If I can pull something off our Airman's plates, I'll do it. That's what we're trying to teach higher headquarters right now, is that if you add something, something else must come off."

Amongst his other priorities are to help take pressure off of Col. Kevin Pottinger, 301st FW commander, and to get out and visit with the folks who work here, while remembering to take time for his family--off duty.
His favorite off duty activity is water skiing on Eagle Mountain Lake. This has led him to another interesting adventure, air-chair cruising. (Ask him about it sometime.) Another favorite the colonel shared was his most memorable moments in his career.

"Even though my time in the skies over Afghanistan was the highlight of my flying career, the Luftwaffe assignment was my favorite because of the instructing aspect. I even got a MiG-29 flight out of it in 1997 from a previous student-pilot of mine when we were deployed to the former East Germany."

"I've been in the Air Force for more than 25 years and while I'm planning to retire someday," Col. Bachelor said, "I'm going to make sure I give back to the Air Force what they have given me before I call it a day. After that, it's time to relax on the dock with my wife, sipping margaritas."

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