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Colfax graduate Ian Bohnen retires from Air Force

By Marlys Kruger

COLFAX — For anyone familiar with the Colfax school district throughout the late 1970s and the 1980s, you probably recognize the last name Bohnen, more than likely because of the seven family members who were heavily involved with various sports and other activities in Colfax. One of the members of the family, Ian, made a career out of the U.S. Air Force and was honored at a ceremony recently after retiring with 30 years of service to our country.

 The fourth oldest in the family after Evan, Shane and Julia, along with three younger sisters Desiree, Dominique and Lara, Ian and his brothers were very talented wrestlers for the Vikings. Ian was a four year letter winner and had a career record of 61-34, and as a senior in 1983, placed third at the Class C sectional meet, one spot away from a state berth and ended the season with a 22-4 record.

Ian decided to take the Armed Forces placement test right after graduation along with a friend of his because he wasn’t sure the college route was right for him.

“I just didn’t know what I was interested in and spending time in college when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do didn’t seem right,” he said. “After taking the test I knew the Air Force had a lot to offer and that’s the route I chose.”

It must have been the right one since at the ripe old age of 48, he has now retired as a Chief Master Sergeant. His area of expertise was in the weather field, flying through typhoons and hurricanes along with other aspects of weather forecasting. He has over 2,300 flying hours in WC-130E/H/P aircraft  and made 82 penetrations into typhoons and hurricanes. He also completed 18 parachute jumps after earning his basic parachute badge in 2005. His assignments have taken him to Mississippi, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida as well as the United Kingdom, Guam, Italy, Africa and Kuwait (twice). He deployed in support of Operations Restore Hope, Joint Guard, Joint Forge, Allied Force, Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. Ian has earned several major awards and decorations throughout his career including the Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, the Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon and the NATO Medal with Bronze Star, just to name a few. He was also named Weather Forecaster Noncommissioned Officer of the Year in 2000 while in Italy, 2003 Weather Staff Noncommissioned Officer of the year, Air Combat Command, and 2010 Weather Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the year, Air Force Space Command.

He currently resides in Sumter, SC with his three boys, the oldest a member of the U.S. Army, and has taken a job in the private sector. Reflecting on his many years in the service, Ian said: “I’ve met some great people and have been to some wonderful places throughout my Air Force career. Flying into hurricanes and typhoons for five years, jumping out of airplanes, supporting shuttle launches and traveling around the world were some great memories. I slept under my bed in full MOPP gear (chem suit and mask) and sweated with 30 other people in a concrete bunker. I’ve stayed in some pretty nice resorts and hotels, but I’ve also been to some places I hope to never see again, even though I met some great people while I was there. And I wouldn’t change any of it. I just spent 30 years doing something I love and would do it all over again,” he said.

Ian doesn’t get back to Colfax as often as he would like. His father, Phil a longtime middle school teacher and coach for the district passed away many years ago and his mother Lorraine remains in the area, but his siblings are scattered throughout the United States.

“I try and keep in touch with friends from the area and visit my siblings and their families as much as I can,” he said. “Right now, I plan on staying in South Carolina until my two younger sons graduate and I’ll see how civilian life goes,” he added.