WESTFIELD Mass. – After serving her country for more than 20 years, Chief Warrant Officer 3, Colleen Picard conducted her final flight before retirement later this month at the Massachusetts National Guard’s Aviation Facility here, Aug. 16, 2013.
She served as an OH-58 Kiowa maintenance test Pilot, and is rated to fly the Bell TH-67, UH-60 Blackhawk, as well as the Bell UH-1 Iroquois. She also served as an aviation commander twice.
Upon her retirement, Picard will be the first female aviator to retire from the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
Discussing this aspect of her career Picard said, “It’s been an interesting and challenging road. There haven’t really been a lot of females around – actually I’m the only one. I’ve been the one who has hung around the longest, and I’ll be the first to retire out of it.”
She has performed duty as a pilot to support the Guard’s Counter Drug Program with law enforcement officials, and was part of the largest ever marijuana seizure in Connecticut State history in 2009. Her effort also contributed to the discovery of 672 pounds of narcotics during a recent tour supporting the Guard’s South West Border Mission. She has flown more than 1,500 accident free flight hours.
Her unit, Detachment 1, Company C, 1-224th Aviation, presented her with a section of painted rotor blade after the flight to serve as reminder of her service to the Guard, and her nation.
As part of the last flight tradition, she hovered over a section of runway while fire trucks made a water arc behind her helicopter.
Her last flight was followed by another aviation tradition in which aircrew members are hosed down with water by their unit comrades, friends and family.
She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Campus, in September 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology. She was also in the Reserve Officer Candidate Training Program, and was commissioned as an officer in the Aviation Branch.
Later during her career, Picard made a choice to remain a pilot instead of an administrator, so she was converted from the rank of captain to chief warrant officer 3. Explaining her decision Picard said, “I have always considered myself an operational person and I wanted to continue flying so the choice was easy for me.”
Her husband and fellow aviator, Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Picard shared his feelings on her last flight saying, “It’s a good way to pay homage to a Soldier and aviator that’s spent 20 years in the Guard. It’s going to be bittersweet – It’s her last military flight.”
Picard, a mother of two, said she is looking forward to spending more time with her family and friends. She lives in Springfield and works at Baystate Medical Center as a doctor of physical therapy.
One of Picard’s comrades from the aviation community, Staff Sgt. Christy Kupiecfox, human resources sergeant, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation, Massachusetts Army National Guard, said “She is a great officer and the kind of person you can look up to. I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.”