Army aviator to speak at Veterans Day program

An Army aviator with more than 40 years of service who is qualified in seven of the Army’s helicopters and airplanes will be the guest speaker at this weekend’s Veterans Day ceremonies.

Activities begin at 10 a.m. on Sat., Nov. 11, when the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Veterans Day parade rolls from First Baptist Church. Veterans are invited to ride on floats provided by the Chamber, and should board the floats by 10:30 a.m. in the church parking lot on East Three Notch Street.

Immediately following the parade, the City of Andalusia will host a program at the Covington Veterans Memorial, located behind City Hall, and veterans are invited to a reception inside City Hall at the conclusion of the program, which will include music by Andalusia High School’s A Sound Tradition.

CW5 Bryant Fontenot, who retired from the U.S. Army in 2021 after 40 years of service, will provide remarks. He held the rank of CW5 for 21 years, and was a warrant officer and standardization instructor pilot at the time of his retirement.

A native of Southern Louisiana, CW5 Fontenot joined the Army very soon after his high school graduation. He served in a wide range of key positions, including principal positions in the Republic of Panama, the US – Mexico Border, Jordan, Bahrain, Israel, Iraq, the State level of the Alabama National Guard, the National Guard Bureau of Arlington Virginia, Forts Novosel, Bragg, Lewis, and Hood, and endured five (5) combat deployments.  His military career culminated as the Command Chief Warrant Officer of Division West of the First US Army, Fort Hood Texas.

His deployments and combat assignments include:

·       1998 - Operation Southern Watch living with the 26th Kuwaiti Land Forces Brigade on the southern Iraqi border, opposing the Iraqi 51 DIV. 

·       1999 - Operation Northern Watch on and off of Failaka Island, Kuwait Ahmadi, coordinating with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit USMC and 5th US Special Forces Group. 

·       2011 - Special Operations Task Force – Central, Anbar Province Iraq, training the 2nd Iraqi Special Operations Forces.  

·       2012 – Special Operations Task Force Central pinned against Syrian border Al Qaim. 

·       2012 - Separate mission set this time as Special Operations Task Force – NORTH, extreme northern Iraq working to keep both Iraq and Turkey from smashing the Kurds into last century. 

CW5 Fontenot has also served twice on the US/Mexico Border supporting U.S. interests of border security.     

CW5 Fontenot is qualified in seven of the Army’s helicopters and airplanes and has amassed more than 15,000 flight hours, all accident free. He is still training and evaluating our Army’s aviators from a position of Federal Service in which he is the Deputy Chief of Standards for all of Fort Novosel’s flight training mission.  

His awards are numerous, but among his most cherished is the Gold Award of The Order of Saint Michael from the Army Aviation Association of America.  It should be noted that the most iconic navigational beacon for decades on Fort Novosel was the RUCKR navigational beacon for instrument flight training; that navigational beacon is now named “BRYNT”, pronounced “Bryant,” and named for our guest speaker today.

He and his wife of more than 40 years, Pauline, have three children and seven grandchildren. The Fontenots reside in Ozark.