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655th ISRG reservist retires after 38 years, now battles cancer

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- An Air Force reservist with the 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group who recently retired after more than 38 years of service has another battle ahead of him…fighting cancer.

During his retirement ceremony, Tech. Sgt. Steven Kause reflected back on his military career that started at 20 years old when he took his oath and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps after working for two years at General Motors. The course that his military career would take over the next 38 years is something he says he never would have imagined.

"When I enlisted in the Marine Corps, I thought I was only going to do one enlistment and get out," said Kause. "I just needed a change; to grow up a little."

Military service runs in the family.

His grandfather served in the Air Force, his father served in the Army and his son is a Marine. Kause is in a select group of individuals who have served in four branches of the military.

"There's probably only been a handful of people that have served in four branches," Kause said. "It's an accomplishment, but I don't necessarily look at it that way. It's just what I did."

Kause's served his first assignment in the Marine Corps as an anti-take assaultman/gunner. A year later he was given the opportunity to apply for Embassy Duty as a security guard. He was accepted and served as a guard for the American Embassies in Bolivia, Israel, Egypt and Jordan. In 1984, he was accepted to the Navy/Marine Corps Air Traffic Control School and upon graduation, was assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Tustin, California as an air traffic controller. Three years later, he volunteered to attend electrician school and served as an electrician at MCAS El Toro, California until he left the Marine Corps in 1987.

In 1988 Kause joined the Army Reserve and graduated from the Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School. He was attached to a Chemical Battalion during the Gulf War and was discharged from the military upon his return in October 1991. He then began his career in the civil service and graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Academy as an Honor Graduate. While in the civil service he served in several roles in Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Michigan.

In 2003 Kause joined the U.S. Navy Reserve as a Cryptologic System Operator. He later applied for and was selected to be a Cryptologic Technician. Five years after joining the Navy Reserve, Kause joined the Department of the Army and served as an information assurance network manager for the Michigan National Guard. Then in 2014, he transferred to the Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, working as a systems administrator. This allowed him to join the Air Force Reserve’s 655th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group in the spring of 2016.

Shortly after joining the 655th, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given one year to live. After several rounds of treatment his prognosis changed and he was given three to five years to live.

Kause then decided to retire from the military to spend time with his family. He says he will miss the people and the opportunities the most.

"In the military you can be anything you want," said Kause. "If you do your best, you can get anywhere. I saw someone enlist in the Navy as an E-1 and retire as an admiral. There are great opportunities and benefits in the military that you won't get anywhere else."

On his final weekend of service before retirement, Kause was in the gym taking a physical fitness test with other members of his unit, even though it wasn't required for him to do so.

"He is over doing (physical training) with some of our members,” said Maj. Allen, assistant director of operations. “Even though he doesn’t have to, he wants to run with others who are testing. This just attests to the type of person he is."

When looking back on his career, Kause said "It was all fun. Even the parts where we just 'embraced the suck,' I still found the positives. It's hard to pick out one memory that I would say was my favorite, but the small units I was with really stood out; they were like family."

However, he is adamant his favorite moment of all was meeting his wife of 34 years while on Embassy Duty in Jordan.

The 655 Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group is dedicated to serving as the premier and most diverse ISR Group in the United States Air Force, delivering timely, reliable, accurate and actionable intelligence products enabling a decisive advantage over adversaries of the United States. The 655th consists of a headquarters and three tenant squadrons in Ohio, and 11 geographically separated units in California, Texas, Nebraska, Virginia, Florida and Maryland. For exciting and rewarding career opportunities with the 655 ISRG, please contact your local Air Force Reserve recruiter or call 937-257-8117.