Col. (Ret.) Kenneth C. Coon, age 62, was called to join Jesus on April 22nd, 2021. A memorial service celebrating Col. Coon’s life will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 8th, 2021 at Countryside Baptist Church, Stillwater, OK. Service will be live-streamed for those who cannot attend. Arrangements are under the care of Strode Funeral Home and Cremation.
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Ken is a decorated veteran who supported several Operations including IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, COPPER DUNE, JUPITER GARRETT, and DESERT STORM. Ken spent 35 years on active duty with the USAF and AFRC. Colonel Coon was a Command Pilot with over 7,000 total flying hours, the majority of which were in the H-1F, A-10A, T-38, and MQ-1B.
Ken served one and a half years enlisted (Automatic Tracking Ground Radar Operator, USAF Technical Training School) prior to attending the United States Air Force Academy. He graduated in June of 1982 with a B.S. in Human Factors Engineering and a minor in Behavioral Sciences. Ken then went on to be a Distinguished Graduate of Undergraduate Pilot Training - Helicopters (TH-55, UH-1H). Over the next five years, he would work to further his abilities through multiple advanced trainings and through Squadron Officer’s School. During this time, Ken was credited with four lives saved in support of the National Search and Rescue Plan. In 1987, Ken was a part of the first class to participate in the Fixed-wing Qualification at Vance AFB, OK for the T-37 and T-38. This then led to AT-38 Lead-in Fighter Training which made way for Ken’s A-10A “Thunderbolt II” Formal Training. For the next three years, he would be with the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing in Myrtle Beach AFB, SC as an Aircraft Commander, Wing Functional Check Flight Pilot, acting Chief of Wing Safety (during DESERT STORM), and Red Flag Mission Commander.
In 1991, at Vance AFB, Ken began what would become the bulk of his career. After completing T-38 Pilot Instructor Training and for the next 18 years, Ken would train, guide, teach, and mentor the next generations of pilots that would lead, serve, and protect our nation for years to come. During this time, he also fulfilled several other roles that included Chief of Wing Safety, Commander for Current Operations, Section Chief, Asst. Operations Officer, and Flight Commander. In 2007, while at Vance, Ken deployed as 2nd Air Force commander for US Army In Lieu Of/Individual Augmentee mission training at Fort Lewis, WA for which he was awarded the Army Achievement Medal.
2009 saw a transition to serving as initial cadre in the first-ever Reserve unit to have its own Remotely Piloted Aircraft Combat Air Patrol as well as a Combat Mission Ready MQ-1B “Predator” pilot with the 2nd Special Operations Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada.
Finally, Ken spent the remaining four years of his service at Robins AFB, Georgia. Initially serving as the Chief of Program & Reqs for RPA, he provided management oversight and supervision for 1,739 manpower authorizations and resources in excess of $190M across a full spectrum of activities related to the Reserve missions of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. In his final assignment, he served as Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the Chief of Training and Tactics Division at the Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command. In this role, he assisted in directing over 9,300 wartime taskings for 788 Reserve units and oversaw strategic/performance planning, source contingency, and deliberate plans.
Over Ken’s career, he was recognized over twenty times with various awards and decorations for outstanding performance, service, and meritorious achievement spanning several areas including combat support, safety investigations, in-flight safety improvements, computer networking, assisting the creation of Vance’s T-1 UPT, and simply doing his job well.
As part of a lifetime of learning, Ken also completed a Master’s in Human Factors Engineering, Minor in Psychology, Master’s in Aeronautical Science, and Doctorate in Business Administration.
Although his dedication to the military and his craft is apparent, his priority always remained his family. Our dad had the biggest heart and strongest mind of anyone we ever knew. He was generous with his time, service, knowledge, and skills. He would make things easier for people in ways they would never recognize, like organizing toys in a funny way for us to discover or moving a frequently used item to a better place so we could find it more easily. Dad’s thoughtfulness was unparalleled. His presence alone would give us confidence and security in any situation. He would also take time to brighten others' day, like making a joke to get a smile out of a cashier. He had the type of work ethic that would never let a job that fell to him go unfinished. If no one else was willing, he would see it through. Whenever any of us had a problem that we couldn’t seem to solve, our dad was always there with at least an ear and usually with an answer. He was always generous with his time after work, no matter how hard or how many hours comprised the day. He would read to us, play catch, paint toenails, tie ballerina shoes, attend games and recitals, coach sports, always be there for us, and love us to no end. For more than thirty-three years he supported, served, and loved our mom in innumerable ways that words will simply fail to express. All these qualities and countless more exemplified the kindness and faithfulness of Jesus to everyone he encountered. He listened and observed intently and met the needs of others without hesitation or concern for his own agenda. Though not without faults and mistakes, he trusted fully in the work of Jesus. A good and faithful servant, indeed.
We’ve lost our commander, leader, friend. He is a better husband, dad, and poppa than we could have ever dreamt of and we praise Jesus for the time we were given and the love he has shown us through such a wonderful, strong, caring, and present father. We will see each other again. We look forward to that day. Hoping that in the light of eternity, it will be but a blink of an eye.
Ken is survived by his wife, Deby; his two children Taurean and husband James, Levi and wife Kelly, his grandchildren Grace, Noah, and Mara; his mother Nina Gay; his siblings, Mike and Trina; other family members Max and Janet Wanger, Cody and Machelle Hooper, Ryan and Misty Beiswanger, Taylor, Ty, Thomas, Maddie, and his loyal Siberian Husky’s. He is preceded in death by his father, Nelson Coon.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to Taysia Blue Siberian Husky and Malamute Rescue or Fisher House Foundation with the funeral home acting as custodian.