One final flight for Jasper native

Allen Laman/The Herald
Friends and family gathered on the runway at Huntingburg Airport on Friday to welcome home U.S. Air Force Maj. Kurt Holtzman, a Jasper native, as he completed a commemorative flight to mark his plans to leave the Air Force.


HUNTINGBURG — More than anything, U.S. Air Force Maj. Kurt Holtzman will miss the people he served alongside.

Holtzman, 34, celebrated his final military flight by flying home Friday morning. Not to his current quarters in Destin, Florida, but instead to Dubois County, where he was born and raised.

“It feels great,” the Jasper native said at the Huntingburg Regional Airport on Friday morning, surrounded by friends and family. “It’s great to come home. My parents have never really got to see me fly or anything like that.”

U.S. Air Force Maj. Kurt Holtzman

Holtzman, who will officially leave the Air Force on Aug. 26, completed the trip as what is known as a fini-flight. The flight is a commemorative journey for pilots that formally marks the point at which an aviator departs from their assigned unit or will never fly their aircraft again. It is an Air Force tradition.

Friday’s round-trip flight from Hurlburt Field air base in Okaloosa County, Florida, to Huntingburg was Holtzman’s final flight with the Air Force.

The day was also special for his parents, Larry and Gae Holtzman of Huntingburg, who have supported him throughout his nearly 12-year military career.

“Proud of everything he’s done,” Larry said of his son. “He’s been many, many places.”

Added Gae: “The Air Force has been a great career for him, but with each deployment, you worry a little more. So, it’ll be nice that he’s not having to deploy anymore.”

Holtzman has traveled to South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe throughout his 11 deployments as a special operations pilot. During that time, he flew an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance plane and completed missions he couldn’t always talk about.

Touching down in Huntingburg proved difficult, as he’d only flown into the regional airport once before Friday — and that was during a stop just a month ago. This time, he arrived in a single-prop training plane with members of his squadron.

The group grabbed lunch at the Holtzmans’ home in Huntingburg and then Kurt was back in the air and on his way to Hurlburt Field.

“It’s been a great experience,” he said of his time in the military. “It’s bittersweet leaving the Air Force, but I can’t regret anything I’ve done in my experience.”

Friday’s round-trip flight from Hurlburt Field air base in Okaloosa County, Florida, to Huntingburg was Holtzman’s final flight with the Air Force.

In his family, only his second cousin, Bob Duncan of Huntingburg, has experience as a pilot and member of the military. Duncan was an Air Force colonel who flew the stealth bomber.

Still, Holtzman knew before he started the ROTC program at Purdue University in West Lafayette that he wanted to be a pilot. Before getting his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, he had an idea that he wanted to join the military, and being a pilot just sounded like a good way to do it.

He and his wife, Katie, will move to Chicago next month before Holtzman begins taking classes at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law.

After he completes law school, Holtzman would like to pursue a service-oriented career field, possibly in government service or as a lawyer. He and Katie want to live in the Midwest.

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