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Retired Col. Ken Sweet, seen here at a 2014 Wisconsin National Guard senior leader conference at the Lincoln War Memorial in Milwaukee, was a founding member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. He passed away Sept. 27 at the age of 96. Wisconsin National Guard file photo

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, offered a statement about retired Wisconsin Air National Guard Col. Ken Sweet, who died Sept. 27 at the age of 96.

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of Col. Ken Sweet,” Dunbar said. “He was a friend and mentor to many of us, and a legend in the Wisconsin National Guard. Col. Sweet was a founding member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, and he truly represents the dedicated service that epitomizes the National Guard.

“He was an inspiration a few years ago, when we had the pleasure of hearing Col. Sweet speak during a senior leadership conference at the War Memorial in Milwaukee,” the adjutant general continued. “To watch the faces of our youngest members when he spoke about his time at Wheeler Air Field on Oahu, Hawaii, and seeing the first Japanese bombs dropped at Pearl Harbor, it was riveting — they were experiencing history first-hand as he shared his story.

“Col. Sweet served 38 years in uniform in the Army Air Corps and then the Wisconsin Air National Guard,” Dunbar said. “He was a pillar in our community. He and a handful of others literally built the Wisconsin Air National Guard from the ground up. The proud legacy we continue today, here in Wisconsin and truly around the world, is a tribute to his dedication and selfless service. He will be missed.”

Dunbar plans to speak at Sweet’s memorial service Monday, Oct. 1 at Waukesha Bible Church.