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MCSO unveils new helicopter dedicated to fallen deputy

(Screenshot/MCSO Facebook Video)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office unveiled a new rescue helicopter Friday, dedicated to a deputy who lost his life in the line of duty.

The new Bell 429 helicopter has been named after Deputy Kenneth Blair, a 22-year Air Force veteran and a deputy sheriff with MCSO for eight years before he was killed on Sept. 28, 1995.

On that day, Blair responded to a domestic violence call at an apartment complex near Luke Air Force Base. As first on the scene, he called for backup but then decided to enter the home after hearing a woman scream from inside.

Upon entering, Blair was shot and killed immediately.

“Ken Blair was a man who spent his entire adult life in service of his country and community. He was an air force veteran, a deputy sheriff, Ken was a hero,” Lieutenant James Schoeninger said during the dedication at the MSCO Training Center in Phoenix. “He was a husband, he was a friend, he was a squadmate.

“He and his memory and his sacrifice will never be forgotten. This helicopter is dedicated to his memory and is a constant reminder to honor those from our past who have paid the ultimate sacrifice as we continue our march into the future.”

The twin engine helicopter is larger than MCSO’s current helicopter and has a heavy rescue capability, which will allow the department to conduct hoist rescue operations, officials said. It also provides more efficiency for missions and a higher margin of safety for rescues that may occur at a high altitude such as in the mountains.

The aircraft features Blair’s badge number “812” displayed on the engine as part of the aircraft’s FAA registration number.

“Not only is hopefully Ken watching over us these days, he cared about the community, he cared about this agency, he cared about law enforcement,” MCSO Chief Deputy Russ Skinner said. “Now, he has another tool with honor of his number on that piece of equipment to watch over and serve the public.”

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