Air Force pays final respects to retired colonel

Kent State student Josh Kocsis salutes his grandfather’s casket as a final goodbye. “He may not be here on Earth, but he is flying planes still where he rests, just happy as can be,” Kocsis said.

Paige Verma

On a sunny but cold January day, memories rose to the surface when Col. Dale Kissinger was laid to rest by the United States Air Force at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Kissinger was a brother, husband, father, uncle and grandfather. He served in the Air Force for more than 30 years and retired as a colonel. The Air Force gave him the full honors and paid their respects when laying him to rest.  His oldest grandson, Josh Kocsis, a junior construction management major at Kent State, followed not only his father’s footsteps but his grandfather’s influence to join the Army National Guard after graduating high school.

“My grandfather was such a memorable person, from him showing me the planes he flew when I was younger to the stories he told me of his childhood,” Kocsis said.

Holidays in Michigan, where his grandfather lived, were not the same this year without him. The thought of him being gone still didn’t seem real. 

“I kept replaying the night before he passed, where I sat with him while he was resting, and I was holding his hand and just telling him how much he was loved and how much he meant to me,” Kocsis said. “How much I looked up to him and how he was such a hero and role model in my life.” 

Arlington National Cemetery now has a new meaning for Kocsis. 

“I viewed Arlington as a place of honor, the bravest and most courageous men and women who fought to make this country the way it is are laid to rest there,” Kocsis said.

It became a place of honor in his heart.

“But now, I view (Arlington) as my grandfather’s new home,” Kocsis said. “He is laid to rest with his brothers and sisters, he is with a group of people who fought until the end… and he was a fighter, from flying fighter pilots until his last breath, he fought hard for what he believed in. 

“Section 55 (of) Arlington National Cemetery will be a place I will go when I need advice from my grandfather,” Kocsis said. “He may not be here on earth, but he is flying planes still where he rests, happy as can be.” 

Contact Paige Verma at [email protected].