Master Sgt. Marion Kiszczak speaks at his retirement ceremony April 11 on Luke Air Force Base. Kiszczak, whose health is failing, returned to Luke to have the retirement ceremony he wasn’t able to have when he retired in 1969. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.)
Master Sgt. Marion Kiszczak poses in front of a P-51 Mustang at Osan Air Base, Korea, in 1960. Kiszczak served multiple tours in Korea with the Detachment 1, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing as a special weapons technician in support of the war effort. (Courtesy photo)
A young Master Sgt. Marion Kiszczak, enlisted in the Army Air Corps Sept. 15, 1942. Kiszczak retired in 1969 from the 62nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, Mich. He returned to his old squadron, which is now the 62nd Fighter Squadron on Luke AFB, to have an official retirement ceremony. (Courtesy photo)
by Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
4/25/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- A World War II and Korean War veteran was honored in a retirement ceremony April 4 on Luke Air Force Base.
Master Sgt. Marion Kiszczak served in the Army Air Corps and one of his final wishes was to officially retire in front of family, friends and leadership from Luke.
Responsibilities at home and limitations at work prevented Kiszczak from having a retirement ceremony in 1969, something he's regretted. With declining health, his family reached out to his old squadron to give him the retirement he never had.
"It is remarkable," Kiszczak said. "It's outstanding, believe me. It's hard to believe I would receive this kind of a send-off, and I sure really appreciate it."
Lt. Col. Shamsher Mann, 62nd Fighter Squadron commander, presided over the ceremony and Congressman Trent Franks, U.S. Representative for Arizona's 8th congressional district, delivered the closing remarks.
Kiszczak was wheeled into a packed room of Airmen, civilians, family and friends, who came out to honor the 91-year-old veteran. Capt. Aubrie Jones, 56th Force Support Squadron operations officer, narrated the accomplishments of Kiszczak as he sat at center stage.
Kiszczak enlisted in the Army Air Corps Sept. 15, 1942, when America was in the midst of WWII. He completed basic training at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls, Texas, and went on to learn armament and received tow target training at Chanute Field, Ill.
His first assignment was at Hammer Field in Fresno, Calif., followed by Williams Field in Chandler. He served at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., training pilots on the P-51 Mustang and with the 56th Fighter Group, and with 56th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
While in Illinois, Kiszczak began working on an idea to increase the efficiency of tow target reel operations. His suggestion to attach an electric motor to the tow reel was approved and implemented across the Air Defense Command. This innovation resulted in saving 260 man-hours and a decrease in the amount of personnel needed to perform the operation, from three to one, making it safer.
In 1959, the interceptors were moved from O'Hare to K.I. Sawyer AFB in Michigan where Kiszczak served as a standardization technical advisor with the 62nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron until his retirement.
Kiszczak held many jobs throughout his 27-year career to include tow reel operator, weapons technician, standardization NCO in-charge, and an aircrew egress systems repair technician and NCO in-charge.
His long years of service during a turbulent time in America's history left an impression on all of those who attended his retirement.
"That was one of the most powerful things I have done," Mann said. "To honor somebody that has served as long as he has, who was part of such a storied generation is truly an incredible honor."
Kiszczak has been married for 57 years and has four children. His son Kevin never knew how much his father had accomplished in his career until hearing it at the ceremony. He was overwhelmed with emotion upon hearing his father's deeds and witnessing the reception.
"It really hit home how much the Air Force appreciates their own," Kevin said. "We learned about contributions he made that were a mystery to us. To find out he helped invent a winch that took only one person to operate when the previous winch took three personnel and they are still using it to this day, that's when I actually got a little emotional. I didn't know the military side of my dad, I just knew dad. The ceremony was not only a great tribute to his military career, but it taught us some things that we didn't know about him."