WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Like so many others, Kenny Ault was inspired by his father to join the military. The Udall resident enlisted in the U.S. Army after he graduated from Wellington High School at the age of 17.
“My parents actually had to sign the paperwork to let me enlist. So, I graduated in May of 2002. I turned 18 in July of 2002, and I was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, November 19th, 2002,” said Ault.
After completing boot camp, Ault was sent to Fort Hood, Texas, where he was trained to be a Field Artillery Meteorological Crew Member.
“I chose meteorology, but the only meteorologists are the ones that work with the artillery. So, it doesn’t matter what the munition is. It can be a mortar, and it can be a rocket. It can be an artillery shell if it went off the ground and into the air. You had to call us first,” explained Ault. “So that way, we can tell you what direction to shoot it. So that way, when the weather did affect the round, the round would still land on target.”
After a break in service with the Kansas Army National Guard, Ault returned to active duty in 2006 and was sent to Fort Stewart, Georgia.
“And then that was my first deployment was with them in 2007 to 2008. We were called up during ‘The Surge’. And so we were in Iraq for 15 months.”
Ault worked in the Joint Defense Operations Center with the Air Force in the Mahmudiya District of the Triangle of Death region of Iraq.
“Once a week, we get a delivery of rounds and powder. We go down once a week to Kalsu to pick that up and bring it back. That’s what we call our ‘thunder run’ because we drove those trucks to the brink of breaking. I mean, we were doing 65-70 miles an hour, and the Humvees are just screaming and sound like it’s gonna blow up,” said Ault. “We’ve got a truck and a trailer that’s got 1,000 rounds on it plus all the gunpowder in bags. Like it’s a terrorist’s dream. It’s a buffet basically, and so it’s get the crap back to a secure area as quickly as you possibly can.”
It was during his first tour that Ault sustained a traumatic brain injury from an explosion. He also has PTSD.
“That and then I’ve got short-term memory loss from the traumatic brain injury. But you know, it is what it is. I mean, we all know what we signed up for. You know, we sign a blank check to the country that is anything up to and including our lives,” said Ault.
His second tour to Iraq lasted 12 months, from 2009 to 2010.
“We went to Mosul in northern Iraq.”
There, Ault was part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team.
“Through the State Department, we were helping MIT teams rebuild schools and checkpoints and stuff like that. I ran a lumber yard, and we supplied that stuff. And then we’d go out and work missions, and then we also trained Iraqi Army to take over for us,” said Ault.
Ault transferred to Fort Riley in 2011, and later that year, his unit was selected to train junior and senior year cadets at West Point for cadet summer training.
“We taught them fire direction control. We taught them how to be the firing officers. We taught them how to teach different positions. Survey. Metro, which was meteorologists. The actual gun bunnies, the guys that were on the gun, pulling the cord and setting the guns up. They trained on every piece.”
Ault takes pride in the fact that he chose to serve his country.
“To be a part of the 1% of Americans that actually stand up and go ‘hey, yeah, I want to do this.’ I think that’s it for me because it’s a brotherhood, and I think that’s the one thing I miss the most about the Army,” said Ault.
After he was honorably discharged, Ault worked in local radio as a play-by-play announcer for nine years. He also served as the marketing director at Mid-America Dragway for five years. Today, he works in sales for Edison Lighting Supply and Boomlight in Wichita.
If you want to nominate a veteran for our Veteran Salute, email KSN reporter Jason Lamb at email@example.com.