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Jan 26, 2011 1:24 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Air National Guard Sergeant Is Bishop's Guest At State Of The Union Address

Jan 26, 2011 1:24 PM

When U.S. Representative Tim Bishop was faced with the question of who would accompany him to this year’s presidential State of the Union address, his thoughts immediately turned to the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton.

From there, Mr. Bishop said, he immediately considered pararescue jumper Sergeant Kieran M. Carney to be his guest at the annual event in Washington, D.C.

Sgt. Carney, who has lived in Hampton Bays since 2008 and has been with the 106th Rescue Wing for the past six years, said he was honored to represent his unit. The decorated airman joined Mr. Bishop on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to watch President Barack Obama give his yearly address to members of Congress in the House Chamber.

“It was pretty nice, I was awestruck,” Sgt. Carney said on Wednesday morning, adding that he was just to the left of Mr. Obama’s field of vision during the speech.

The trip marked Sgt. Carney’s first stop in Washington, D.C., he said—with the exception of an earlier visit to nearby Arlington National Cemetery.

Sgt. Carney flew down with one of Mr. Bishop’s aides early on Tuesday, and after checking into his hotel, met up with the congressman at his office and later went to dinner at the National Democratic Club. Afterward, they walked through the House of Representatives and Mr. Bishop showed Sgt. Carney the monuments from its weathered windowpanes. “He took me around and showed me a few things,” he said.

According to Sgt. Carney, he was in awe upon seeing the president give his State of the Union address, which was a little over an hour long. Sgt. Carney sat in the upper level of the House, in a section reserved for guests of members of Congress.

“The people I sat with were all very nice,” Sgt. Carney said, noting that he was seated next to a wind energy expert from Oklahoma, a guest from Mississippi and the wives of several congressmen.

Mr. Bishop and his friend, Republican U.S. Representative John Shimkus of Illinois, sat together during the speech in an attempt to show solidarity across party lines, according to a press release issued by the congressman.

At a press conference held at the ANG base on Saturday, Sgt. Carney said he was excited about his upcoming trip. “It’s my honor to represent this base,” he said at the time. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Mr. Bishop said he decided to invite the airman because he wanted to thank all the men and women of the 106th Rescue Wing.

“It is my very small way of saying, ‘thank you,’” Mr. Bishop said at the press conference on Saturday, the first time he actually met Sgt. Carney.

“It’s an honor,” Sgt. Carney said, smiling. “Honestly, I’m kind of shocked.”

Despite his modesty, Sgt. Carney is no stranger to the spotlight. The pararescue jumper was recently honored with the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year award for the 106th Rescue Wing, a prestigious honor that recognizes his multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Sgt. Carney was also recognized for being active in the community—specifically in fundraising events for veterans. He has raised more than $14,000 as captain of his Wounded Warriors Project cycling team, a group that raises money for outreach programs and the care of wounded veterans.

According to 106th Rescue Wing spokesman Major Paul Salas, Sgt. Carney was nominated by local commanders and chosen by a board of noncommissioned officers at the ANG before he was given the award. “It’s his level of the commitment to the unit as far as meeting his training requirements, as well as his involvement in the community,” Major Salas said.

In addition to winning the local award, officials at the base learned on Monday—the day before Sgt. Carney left for Washington, D.C.—that he had been chosen as the New York State’s noncommissioned officer of the year. As a result, he is now competing against other soldiers around the country for the highest honor—the national award for noncommissioned officers.

“I guess I feel unworthy,” Sgt. Carney said of the award.

As part of his training, Sgt. Carney has undergone medical training, as well as diving instruction. Major Salas said Sgt. Carney is part of a team that rescues airmen in need of assistance after their planes are shot down in enemy territory or over the ocean. As part of his duties, he would administer medical attention before hoisting any injured airmen onto rescue helicopters.

Before transferring to the U.S. Air Force and joining the 106th Rescue Wing, Sgt. Carney was an Army Ranger, specializing in special operations. All together he has served his country for the past nine years.

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It is wonderful to learn of good news from our elected officials. We all need to hear the good things done in our nations capital.
Congrataulations to Sgt. Carney and good wishes on the upcoming national award for noncommissioned officers. Those nco's do much of the grunt work in the service.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Jan 27, 11 2:23 PM
Another good move by Tim Bishop, who has a knack for good moves, and always has. Still, I'm astounded that all the lizard flag people out there who hate Mr. Bishop so much haven't found something negative to say about even this good story. What's the matter, guys? Cold freeeze your bile?
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 27, 11 10:22 PM