USAF ROTORHEAD Members
Aug. 1953 – Enlisted Basic, Lackland AFB, TX.
Jan. 1954 – Feb.1955 Aviation Cadets (Navigator Tng), Ellington AFB, TX.
Mar. 1955 – Nov. 1955 MATS C-54 Navigator, Grenier Field, NH.
Dec. 1955 – Sep. 1958 MATS C-54/C-124 Navigator (IN/NFE), Charleston AFB, SC.
Oct. 1958 – Mar. 1959 Pilot Training Basic, Bainbridge AB, GA
Apr. 1959 – Oct. 1959 Pilot Training Advanced, Vance AFB, OK.
Nov. 1959 – Apr. 1960 Helicopter Training, Stead AFB, NV.
May 1960 – Sep. 1961 H-19 AC, Missile Site Support, Forbes AFB, KS.
Oct. 1961 – Apr. 1964 H-19/H-43 AC, Det. 2, 54th ARS (Cmdr), Harmon AFB, Nfld.
May 1964 – Apr. 1965 H-43 AC, Det. 3, CARC, Kirtland AFB, NM.
May 1965 – Nov. 1965 H-43 AC, Det. 1, 38th ARS (Cmdr), NKP, Thailand.
Dec. 1965 – Dec. 1966 H-43 AC, Det. 12, CARC, Randolph AFB, TX.
Jan. 1967 – Jul. 1967 H-43 AC, Det. 12, 38th ARRS (Cmdr), Nha Trang, RVN.
Aug. 1967 – Aug. 1969 H-43 AC, Det. 18, WARRC (Cmdr), Webb AFB, TX.
Sep. 1969 – Oct. 1971 H-3 AC, 31st ARRS, Clark AFB, PI.
Nov. 1971 – Sep. 1973 H-3 Stand PFE, 1551st FTS, Hill AFB, UT.
May 1972 – Jun. 1972 H-3 AC, 3rd ARRGp, Tan Son Nhut, RVN.
20 Years and 6 Days, 25 Aug. 1953 – 09 Jan. 1973.
Flew from 1973 until 1989 as a contract helicopter pilot overseas. Cumulated 10,700 hours with 9,000 in helicopters all over the world.
Joe Edward Ballinger, Major, USAF (Retired)
May 01, 1933 – September 20, 2021
Joe Edward Ballinger was born May 1, 1933 to Guy Edward and Bernice Dorothy (McCrea) Ballinger, in Aldine Township, Norton County, Kansas.
He passed away at the Andbe Home on September 20, 2021 in Norton, Kansas at the age of 88.
Joe started school in Aldine Township attending Dry Creek (Dead Man) school until second grade before attending Norton Public Schools and graduating Norton High School in 1950.
Joe enlisted in the United States Air Force with the hope of becoming a jet pilot. He went to Denver to take the Cadet Pilot Exam but did not have the 40 semester hours needed to go into the jet pilot program. He did enter the Navigation Training Program and became a “rated Navigator”. It wasn’t exactly his dream of being a pilot, but he was a step closer on the path. Following this training, he was stationed in Newfoundland (1960-64); Thailand (1965); and the Philippines (1969-71). He did three tours-of-duty in Vietnam: 1965, 1967 and 1972. Joe held the rank of Major when he retired from the military in 1973, having served 20 years and six days.
Joe had finished a successful career in the Air Force and was looking for his next big adventure. He enrolled at Angelo State University ASU in Texas to pursue a degree in history. This time, he was focused on his classes and even made the Dean’s List.
He had the opportunity to fly again and left the university to become Chief of Aviation at the USAF Missile Range on Canton Island.
Joe was a civilian-contract helicopter pilot in the remote island, Joe maintained his certification as an Airline Transport Pilot, the highest level of aircraft pilot licensing. His flight path in life took him to: Peru on an oil rig in the jungle, West Africa with the World Health Organization and then the Bahamas as a Navy contractor. Joe’s career had taken him to over 40 countries around the world in his 24 years as a pilot. Joe managed three civilian units and commanded six military units resulting in approximately 20 years of helicopter operational responsibility without one single operator or maintenance error accident.
Professional honors acquired during this time included 3-National Business Aircraft Association Safety awards, Military Airlift Command 5000 Hour Safety award, Air Training Command TOPS Safety award, American Spirit Honor award, Silver Star, Bronze Star, plus 39 other military awards and foreign decorations.
He retired to Norton to enjoy a quieter life where he could serve his community. During his life he served as American Legion Commander for 4 years on Andros Island in the Caribbean Sea and 12 years in Norton. He was Quartermaster of the Norton Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He was active on the Norton County Republican Central Committee advocating for Veteran’s Affairs.
His community service also included Rotary, the library board and several years at the Norton Historical Society and Museum.
Joe married Pamela Stoney on October 25, 1997 in Norton. He is survived by his wife of the home. Children: Pamela Vela (Robert), Converse, TX; Michelle (Stoney) Prewo (Paul), Logan, KS; Aaron Stoney (Shawna), McCook NE; and Keith Stoney (Bethany), Manhattan, KS.
Grandchildren: Misty and Mandy Vela, Converse, TX; Melissa Leiker, Ryan and Helen Prewo, Logan, KS; BenLee Stoney, McCook, NE; Tierra and Kaitlyn Stoney, Manhattan, KS. Eight great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild all of Converse, TX. Joe was preceded in death by his parents and grandson Aiden James Prewo.
During an interview in 2021, Joe was asked if there was a message he wanted to leave everyone with. He smiled and answered, “I’ve had a happy life and I love my wife!”
Visitation will be at the Norton American Legion from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 27th. Graveside services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 28th at the Kansas Veterans Cemetery in WaKeeney, KS
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials to the Norton American Legion, Norton VFW, Norton Public Library, or the Norton County Museum.