Robert Kenneth 'Kenny' Boone graduated from the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in the Class of 1966, Ninth Cadet Squadron, on June 8, 1966.
His bio from the USAFA Class of 1966 yearbook, Polaris, reads;
"Kenny was expelled from his high school gang ‘The Unbearables' and left Pittsburg, Kansas to ride across the plains to USAFA. He immediately started establishing himself as number one in several areas. He wrote the most girls, collected the most records and knew the worst jokes. He devoted much of his energy to editorship of the Polaris, the Academy Assembly and the Rally Committee. Kenny kept the Dean happy and was on the Commandant's List every semester. Being squadron commander for Ninth Squadron was his greatest honor, however, and we know that he will excel at pilot training and enjoy an outstanding career as an officer."
After attending Undergraduate Pilot Training at Reese Air Force Base, Lubbock, Texas, F-4 Replacement Training, Air Force Survival Training and Jungle Survival Training, he was assigned to the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron 'Night Owls', 8th Tactical Fighter Wing 'Wolfpack', Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand in 1968 as a Weapons System Operator (WSO) aka Guy In Back (GIB) flying the F-4D, Phantom II. He was shot down in Laos on November 18, 1968 and safely recovered.
He went back to SEA again in 1971 as an Aircraft Commander.
Kenny left the Air Force on November 8, 1976 with the rank of Captain.
Kenny's decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and numerous Air Medals.
His wife, Kathy Ann along with Tom Markman, Tom Menza and Russ Sullivan wrote a beautiful loving memorial for Kenny in the Air Force Academy's Alumni Magazine, Checkpoints.
From The Times Standard, Eureka, CA, Neil Tarpey, 2/6/2011;
Unsolicited phone callers usually asked, "Is Robert there?" He often replied, "No," and hung up. To his friends and family he was Kenny, not Robert.
Robert Kenny Boone grew up, and played for his high school football team, in Pittsburg, a small town in southeast Kansas.
Kenny graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1966, and served as a F-4 fighter pilot for two tours of duty during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Purple Heart after being shot down - and miraculously rescued from behind enemy lines - in Laos. After 10 years of active duty he worked as an aeronautical engineer in the defense industry, including years with McDonnell Douglas and most recently, helping F-18 pilots for Northrop Grumman.
I first met Kenny when he was 47 and had moved to Eureka. He had a quick wit, a sharp mind and a great laugh - that turned his face as red as his BMW, "diablo rojo" - and typically got other people smiling as well.
He was a sharp dresser, a voracious reader of both mysteries and non-fiction, had written a novel, loved Ray Charles music, never drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes in the yard, and built computers. He was a fantastic cook who never believed in serving meager portions. Once, while Kenny was preparing one of his legendary scampi or meatloaf dinners, he mixed words and mentioned a "mathbat'' (bathmat). I asked him, "What's a mathbat?"
Without missing a beat, he quickly ad-libbed about a wooden bat that could be used for softball, protecting shopkeepers from shoplifters, and had a state sales tax table engraved on the side...
His once-a-season sojourn to Lambeau Field was part Disneyland, part sacred pilgrimage, and always top-shelf on his sports bucket list. Watching Monday Night Football together became a ritual for Kenny and myself for most of the nine years he lived in Eureka. No matter which teams played, there was Green Bay paraphernalia in the room...
My favorite memory of Kenny involves the millenium New Year's Eve. With Y2K approaching and Kenny and I both single, he had a superb idea of where to spend New Year's Eve.
"What about somewhere that has been around since the last millennium (i.e., the year 1000)?" said Kenny.
So we loaded the two dogs into my pickup and drove 40 miles south to Avenue of the Giants. We took a 30-minute walk in the total darkness - we had flashlights but kept them off as much as possible - and silence among the ancient redwoods. At midnight we were back at the pickup, lit a new candle and toasted with a bottle of Martinelli's sparkling cider poured in paper cups before heading back north to Eureka.
Two years later I was happy he asked me to read a prayer from the pulpit in the world-famous USAF Chapel in Colorado Springs when Kenny married his long-time friend Kathy.
Kenny's love for sports encompassed not only the Packers or the NFL, but especially the Air Force Academy Falcons. After Kenny and Kathy set up home in Colorado Springs, he rarely missed Falcons' home football or basketball games, and frequently followed them on road trips...
MorningSun.net, Gatehouse News Service, May 16, 2010
Colorado Springs, Colo. - I started watching my friends die in 1968 as fighter pilots in Viet Nam. I've lived a lot longer than I ever thought I would and I've had a good life." These words were spoken by Robert Kenneth Boone to a friend only a few days before he passed away. Known to all as "Kenny," he died at home peacefully on the morning of May 9, 2010 from complications of a recent illness. He will be missed by all who were honored to have known, worked, and served with him.
Kenny was born December 15, 1944, in Pittsburg, Kansas. He graduated from Pittsburg High School in 1962 and entered the Air Force Academy that summer, with the class of 1966. At the Academy, he formed many friendships that lasted the rest of his life. Kenny made the Commandant's List every semester and was also selected as Squadron Commander for the 9th Cadet Squadron spring semester his senior year.
After graduating from the Academy, he attended pilot training at Reese AFB, Texas, and then served two tours of duty in Viet Nam as an F-4 fighter pilot, and received the Purple Heart after being shot down over Laos. After serving ten years of active duty, including tours as an instructor pilot and an Air Liaison Officer in Italy, he left the Air Force in 1976 at the rank of Captain and went to work as an aeronautical engineer in the defense industry that included several years with McDonnell Douglas in the F/A-18 program and most recently with North Grumman in Colorado Springs.
He leaves behind his wife Kathy Ann, whom he first met while she was visiting family in Kansas in 1963. Thirty-eight years later, their paths crossed again and they were married in 2002 at the Air Force Academy Chapel. He also leaves behind his stepdaughter Katelyn Bell.
Kenny was proud to serve his country - a fighter pilot and war veteran was part of his identity. Also part of his identity was the close camaraderie and brotherhood amongst his Academy classmates and former Air Force squadron mates. He was as gracious and warm hearted to new coworkers and new acquaintances he met over the last few years as he was to his older comrades from 45 years ago.
Kenny and Kathy remained active in Air Force Academy activities as a sponsor family for many cadets. He was a steadfast Falcon Football and Basketball fan — never missing a home game and often traveling to their away-games.
Services will be at the Air Force Academy Protestant Cadet Chapel on Monday, May 17, 2010. Viewing at 9:30 a.m., service at 10:00. Internment at the Academy Cemetery will follow.
Captain, U.S. Air Force, Class of 1966; Loving husband of Kathy Ann, Stepdad of Katelyn Elyse