LifeFlight pilot prepares for Maine Army National Guard deployment
(ABC 7 / FOX 22) BANGOR, Maine — The 3rd Battalion-142nd Aviation of the Maine Army National Guard is set to deploy next week.
One soldier, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Abel Gleason, will be leaving his family and another career of service behind.
Abel Gleason knew he wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a kid.
Nowadays, when he’s not on deployment with the Maine Army National Guard, he’s serving the community he grew up in as a pilot for LifeFlight of Maine.
“I flew for the airlines for a while, and while it’s validating to get to fly at all, it’s very validating to fly for a greater purpose that actually gives back to the communities we are all in,” Chief Gleason said. “Getting to do something that you always wanted to do is incredibly fulfilling… I wouldn’t leave this job for the world.”
But in the coming days, Chief Gleason will leave this job and his family behind for a year, as he’s been tasked to deploy to U.S. CENTCOMS in the Middle East.
As a civilian-soldier, deployment is something he stays ready for. However, as a husband and father with a son on the way, leaving for duty this time carries extra weight.
“There’s a stereotype about military guys not being so forthcoming with their feelings… Even if you come from a military family and they know what to expect, I think it’s always a gut punch to have to confront that,” Chief Gleason said.
And he isn’t alone.
Well over a third of LifeFlight’s employees have served, not to mention 100 percent of helicopter pilots in Bangor are veterans. He says the strong military connection within LifeFlight makes the whole process a little easier.
“It truly is a band of brothers and sisters. The wellspring of support that’s come forth mutually from everyone and all of our families to support one another while we’re gone is something very touching and reassuring to see,” Chief Gleason said.
There will be a send-off ceremony for Chief Gleason and the 3rd Battalion-142nd Aviation next week.