Chief Warrant Officer Grant Pearsoll inspects one of
the engines on a C-12 aircraft.
SOUTHWEST ASIA-- Chief Warrant Officer Grant Pearsoll has
always been about duty, honor and country. In fact, his
devotion to those three things has carried the 55-year old
Utah National Guard pilot through a military career spanning
He has flown a variety of Army aircraft over places ranging
from Vietnam three decades ago to Southwest Asia today.
Pearsoll has continued to serve his country long after most
of his contemporaries have hung up their flight suits
because he still enjoys what he does, even after all these
Ive flown terrific equipment, said Pearsoll, who now
flies C-12s out of an undisclosed air base. Also, much of
it is the social aspect. So many of my friends are in. I
just look forward to going to drill.
Its often been said that everything happens for a reason
and for Pearsoll, a chain of events that took place in
Mayville, N.Y., Aug. 22, 1967, began his long military
journey. I had an older brother who didnt drive who wanted
to enlist, so I drove him to the recruiters office, he
said. While waiting for his brother, he found himself
transfixed by a poster on the offices wall. It depicted a
UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, commonly known as the Huey. One
of the recruiters noticed his fascination and asked the
17-year-old Pearsoll how old he was, followed by a question
that changed the course of his life. How would you like to
fly one of those? asked the recruiter. The Army got two new
recruits that day, instead of only one. We both joined the
Army the same day, said Pearsoll.
After flight school, he was off to Vietnam, where he flew
approximately 500 missions during his tour there, many of
them in harms way. More than half of my missions were in
and out of landing zones, he said.
To Pearsoll and his fellow pilots, the war in Vietnam
provided a new challenge to the Army in how that particular
conflict was fought using air assault assets for the first
time. Vietnam was called a helicopter war and that was a
breakthrough, he said. To this day, Pearsoll has a soft
spot in his heart for the aircraft he flew through those
valleys. The Huey got me out of a lot of tough scrapes, he
said. It hung in there and took a lot of damage. However,
if he had to fly into a hostile area today, he would prefer
the UH-60 Black Hawk, which he flew later in his career.
The Blackhawk does everything well, said Pearsoll.
Because of technological advances, its much more capable,
with features such as multiple engines that allows it to
take a lot more battle damage.
A proud military heritage doesnt just stretch across the
decades for Pearsoll himself. His four sons also serve
America. The oldest, Christopher, 30, works in the
intelligence field for the Navy, while Adam, 27, is a
loadmaster in the Air Force. Last, but not least, are twin
Marines Joe and Steve, 23, who are a flight mechanic and
explosive ordinance disposal technician, respectively.
All four have joined their father by serving during
Operation Iraqi Freedom, with as many as three of them in
theater at once. They grew up with the military, said
Pearsoll, who added with a laugh regarding the diversity of
service branches represented in the family tree. Weve got
all the bases covered. This is literally a band of brothers
and a father. Serving together creates more of a bond,
said Pearsoll, who recently had an opportunity to visit with
Joe as the latter was passing through Kuwait while
Today, Pearsolls days are filled with the bright, blue
desert skies of the Middle East. He flies support missions
for Coalition Forces Land Component Command, primarily back
and forth to and from Central Command headquarters in Qatar.
Although flying planes doesnt hold the same allure for him
as his rotary-wing days, it has given him an opportunity to
extend what has been and continues to be a fulfilling
career. I enjoy the people and the mission, said Pearsoll,
whose background extends to his civilian job as a safety
inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration. However,
he still yearns for the rough and tumble world of his
I love helicopters because of the action, said Pearsoll.
Chief Warrant Officer Kenny Swaitches, Arizona National
Guard, is a fellow pilot and Vietnam veteran who works with
Pearsoll and is quick to point out what his comrade offers
the group. He brings a lot of experience and perspective to
the job, said Swaitches, who added that Pearsolls
personality is useful when it comes to some of their
passengers. I think hes very personable and outgoing. He
likes to meet people, which comes in handy with the VIPs.
Theres one other thing that tells you what kind of Soldier
Pearsoll is. He could have retired before deploying and not
found himself flying over the windswept, barren expanses of
this faraway part of the world. He could be back in Park
City, Utah, enjoying spending time with his wife, knowing
that only his sons were carrying on his legacy of duty,
honor and country. But that wouldnt sit too well with
Pearsoll. You dont retire in the face of a deployment, he
said. When you sign up and raise your right hand, its like
marriage. Its for better or worse.
As for how much longer his Army career will last, Pearsoll
will know when that time arrives, but its not here yet.
Im going to stay as long as I enjoy it, he said. As long
as Im having fun.