For the love of flight
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- Medical evacuation helicopters have been saving Soldiers lives since they were incepted into the Army. They have been used in numerous conflicts and proven vital to our success, but what about the pilots. Who are they? Where do they come from? For a long time none of them came from the Republic of Palau, but now that is changing.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tsuyoshi Konno, a medevac pilot with the Co. C, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, is one of the first Palauan warrant officers to pilot a rotary wing aircraft.
Konno grew up in Palau, but in 1999 he decided to join the U.S. Army as a mechanized infantryman. His first duty assignment was in Vilseck, Germany. He deployed from there in 2000 to Kosovo where he participated in a large amount of riot control.
"A small village by where we were was part Christian and part Muslim," Konno said. "They did not get along very well. They once beat a man so badly, we had to go out and control the situation."
Konno was then moved to Fort Carson, Colo. in 2002. He was married in 2003 to Tasia Konno, and only a few months later in March, his unit received orders to deploy to Iraq.
After completing his tour in Iraq, Konno said his wife gave him an ultimatum. Either he got out of the Army, or he had to change jobs, so he became a surgical service specialist.
Once he was finished with school for his new job, Konno was stationed in Landstuhl, Germany in 2005. Over the five years he was at Landstuhl, the medical center he worked in saw more than 3,000 patients. Konno was also promoted to staff sergeant while stationed there.
He then moved on to Fort Gordon, Ga. where he was a part of the open-heart program at the base. While at Fort Gordon, Konno said he was feeling indifferent about what he wanted to do.
"I was just looking around the HRC website and I stumbled upon aviation," Konno said. "I checked it out, and I read about being the pilot in command. It sounded like something I would want to do."
Once approved, he was off to flight school in Fort Rucker, Ala. for 18 months of training. Konno finished third in his class, and pilots got to choose their aircraft based on class rank, so he got his top pick, the Uh-60L Black Hawk.
Konno's first assignment as an aviator was to Korea which he wanted due to its proximity to his family in Palau.
He has two kids named Mateyo and Taelyn, one of which was born in Korea where he would like to stay for as long as possible.
Konno said that he wants to stay in the Army to keep his purpose in life, and he loves being an aviator.