Cade Keenan, formerly of Great Bend, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Missouri Air National Guard on Oct. 1, 2018. He is assigned to the 139th Airlift Wing in St. Joseph, Mo. as C-130 Instructor Pilot.
Born and raised in Great Bend, Col. Keenan graduated from Kansas State University before being selected to attend USAF pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. Shortly after training, he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Karshi-Khanabad Airbase, Uzbekistan and continued regular deployments, nine in all, across southwest Asia between 2003 and 2011.
In his civilian career he worked as a process improvement engineer at Hallmark Cards in Lawrence until 2012.
Following instructor pilot upgrade training, he began work at the Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center, also in St. Joseph, as tactics instructor pilot. In this role, Col. Keenan instructed aircrews from across the USAF, USMC, and 10 foreign countries on combat tactics for C-130, C-17, C-160, and C-235 aircraft. As a subject matter expert in infrared weapons and defensive systems, he provided advanced instruction in the tactics, techniques, and procedures to degrade and defeat these threats to mobility aircraft. He was selected as part of the inaugural class for the C-130H Weapons Instructor Course, the flagship course of the USAF Weapons School. As weapons officer, Col. Keenan joined the top tier of USAF pilots in the integration of Air Force capabilities across the air, space, and cyberspace domains.
He serves today as interim Chief of Tactics for the 139th Operations Group upon his return from a one-year assignment to Germany. During this accompanied tour, Col. Keenan served as Future Operations Planner, Operations and Plans Division, Directorate of Operations, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration at Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. In this role, Col. Keenan oversaw two separate deployments of F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft to the European theater. He managed a budget of $9 million for the operations, transportation, and beddown of the fighters, personnel and equipment. Over these two months of deployments, the Raptors completed strategic engagement visits with 200 host nation air force and U.S. Embassy personnel and air combat training with foreign air forces of five NATO countries.
Col. Keenan is a Command Pilot with 4,123 C-130 hours, 798 of which are in combat. He is a graduate of the USAF Advanced Instrument School, holds a certificate in Electo-Optical and Infrared Applications from the Georgia Tech Research Institute, a Master of Business Administration from Colorado State University and Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Kansas State University. Following his current military leave of absence, he will return to United Airlines as first officer on the Boeing 737 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
He resides in Kansas City, Mo., and is married to the former Sara Reser of Ellinwood. They have two children, Sam and Annie. He is the son of Dortha Keenan of Great Bend and the late Pat Keenan.