Airman Serves for 50 Years

  • Published
  • By SrA Riley Johnson
  • 146AW

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.