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Air National Guardsman Celebrates 41 Years Of Service

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patrick Espeut
  • 105th Airlift Wing

Senior Master Sgt. Denis Ritosa, celebrated the end of 41 years of military service at a retirement ceremony at Stewart Air National Guard Base April 02, 2023.

Ritosa was the last active unit member of the 105th Airlift Wing to have served when the unit was still stationed at Westchester County Airport, before making the move to its current location in Newburgh, NY in 1983.

Enlisting in 1982, Ritosa started his career as an aerospace ground equipment apprentice and was responsible for maintaining and repairing the equipment that supplies electricity, hydraulic pressure and air pressure to the planes. Over the next four decades Ritosa would go on to serve as a crew chief, flying crew chief, expediter and finally production superintendent. As the production superintendent, Ritosa was responsible for squadron maintenance production and directed the overall maintenance effort of the 105th.

Ritosa’s career saw the 105th transition through several different aircraft, from the Cessna O-2 Skymaster to the C-5A Galaxy and finally the C-17A Globemaster III.

“The Stewart tail flash has been pumping in his blood for over 40 years. He has been the driving force behind maintenance at Stewart” said Lt. Col. Eric L. Durkins, II, commander of the 105th Maintenance Squadron, who presided over the ceremony.

“Your efforts directly contributed to every airlift operation this wing has been a part of for the last 40 years. Whether it’s carrying service trucks back to New York in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, to thousands of young Afghani children who have a better way of life because they flew on one of these planes” said Durkins.

The ceremony was attended by Maj. Gen. Denise Donnell, the commander of the New York Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. Gary R. Charlton II, commander of the 105th Airlift Wing, Col. Kristopher R. Geis, commander of the 105th Maintenance Group, as well as the many family and friends Ritosa has made during his well-established career.

Ritosa was presented with a Meritorious Service Medal and letter of appreciation for his professional conduct and leadership. An American flag was also presented to the retiring member by his son, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Ritosa, as a traditional symbol of a long and dedicated service to our nation.

Concluding the ceremony, Senior Master Sgt. Ritosa thanked his wife Mary, sons Nicholas and Logan, and daughter Sabrina for their support during his tenure at the 105th. He also thanked the men and women and that he served alongside during his many years of military service and left them with a parting message.

“Take pride in what you do, as I did.” said Ritosa. “It wasn’t just a job, I lived it day in and day out. I truly loved my job. It’s tough to walk away but I know the chapter must close. So, with that I say to you aim high and Godspeed to all of you at the 105th.