Kevin Cheney was born in 1945 in Flushing, New York. He Enlisted in the Air Force Reserve on May 10, 1968, and entered Officer Training School on June 28, 1968. He was commissioned a 2d Lt at Lackland AFB, Texas, on September 24, 1968, and then attended Undergraduate Pilot Training from October to December 1968. After leaving flight school, Lt Cheney completed Undergraduate Navigator Training and was awarded his Navigator Wings at Mather AFB, California, in October 1969, and then completed survival school and F-4 Phantom II Combat Crew Training. His first assignment was as an F-4 Weapons Systems Officer with the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from September 1970 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on July 1, 1972. After spending 271 days in captivity, Capt Cheney was released during Operation Homecoming on March 28, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and then was accepted for Undergraduate Pilot Training at Moody AFB, Georgia, where he was awarded his pilot wings in October 1974. After completing F-4 Combat Crew Training as a pilot, Maj Cheney served as an F-4 pilot with the 7th and 9th Tactical Fighter Squadrons of the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, from October 1975 to July 1978, followed by service as as an F-4 pilot with the 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at Torrejon AB, Spain, from September 1978 to July 1981. His next assignment was as Director of Operations and then as Commander of the 57th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at NAS Keflavik, Iceland, from June 1984 to November 1985, during which time the squadron switched from F-4's to the F-15 Eagle. Col Cheney served as Chief of the Operations Training Division for the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Homestead AFB, Florida, from December 1985 to August 1988, and then served on the staff of Headquarters Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Georgia, from September 1988 to October 1991. His final assignment was at Robins AFB, Georgia, where he retired from the Air Force on January 1, 1995.
His 1st (of 2) Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
First Lieutenant Kevin J. Cheney distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an F-4E Weapon Systems Officer over Southeast Asia on 26 May 1971. On that date, Lieutenant Cheney flew number two in a flight of two F-4E fighter-bomber aircraft against a highly lucrative target of concentrated hostile ground forces who were engaged in an offensive operation against friendly troops. Despite mountainous terrain, adverse weather and intense antiaircraft fire, Lieutenant Cheney made multiple passes over the target destroying the hostile emplacements thus insuring the survivability of the friendly forces. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Cheney reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.