Ken McCauley comes from a family that believes in public service. Both his father and grandfather served in the military, and Ken grew up on eight different naval bases around the country. Upon graduation from high school in 1976, he continued family tradition by enlisting in the US Air Force.
His first assignment was FE Warren Air Force Base (1977-1984), where he worked as an Electro-Mechanical Technician (EMT) team chief and as a senior controller in Wing Job Control. While stationed in Cheyenne, he attended LCCC and Chapman University’s Warren campus, earning a degree with honors in Electronic Technology.
Ken became a parent early in life at the age of 19, and has two children — Alycia and Scott. As a young parent, he served full-time in the USAF and continued his education.
After earning his degree, Ken was granted a commission in the Air Force and was selected for pilot training. He went on to fly the A-10 Thunderbolt on active duty. During Operation Desert Storm, he was an instructor pilot at Holloman AFB in the Fighter Lead-In Training program.
Later, he accepted a full-time position with the Maryland Air National Guard (MdANG) as an A-10 Instructor Pilot and Standardization Officer, eventually becoming the unit’s Operations Officer.
He was Operations Officer for the MdANG’s deployment in support of Operation Joint Endeavor in 1995-96. In addition to flying combat, night close air support missions, Ken was assigned to the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOK), a multinational command and control center that provided intelligence, reconnaissance, airlift and air refueling assets, and treaty compliance. At the CAOK, Ken worked along side NATO and non-NATO forces to coordinate missions.
In addition to flying in the Air Force, Ken trained as an accident investigator and investigated several major aircraft accidents, and graduated from several military management and leadership schools.
Ken earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before his retirement, when he chose to return to Cheyenne to enjoy the quality of life he’d experienced during his first assignment in Wyoming. Living in Cheyenne, he makes the weekly commute to Denver International Airport as a pilot for United Air Lines, flying the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A-320. He also continued his education by obtaining a Masters Degree in Management/Leadership from American Military University.
As a volunteer with Cheyenne’s Special Friends, Ken became a mentor to Brian Davis, a young man who aspires to be a fighter pilot. When Brian’s parents moved out of the area, Ken helped him finish school in Cheyenne and became an advocate in his quest to obtain an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Brian is now a junior at the Academy and remains an important member of the McCauley family.
As a United pilot who knew several of the crew members of United Flight 93, Ken was shocked and saddened by the events of September 11th, 2001. “I saw one of my former squadron-mates, Captain Harry Roberts, as a POW in Operation Desert Storm, and I flew combat missions in Bosnia, but the way this nation was united after September 11th is an equal source of inspiration,” he says. “I remember the shock we felt, and how everyone was united as Americans and less concerned about political party affiliations. We all felt the loss and we all worked together to recover. I’d like to see that kind of unity again, in government as well as individuals.”
Ken saw firsthand the economic effects that followed 9/11. It forced his airline into bankruptcy, and a third of his fellow employees were laid off. He’s seen significant cuts in benefits, the loss of a pension fund, and a significant cut in salary as a result of the economic impact of those events. Like the rest of the nation, the airline industry is still suffering from the aftermath of that attack.
Ken sees running for office as a new way to serve his country. Having grown up in a military family that moved frequently, he considers Wyoming his home and Cheyenne his hometown, and he’s committed to helping others enjoy the quality of life he found in Wyoming by continuing a life of service with an active role in the state legislature.