In 1988, Schiavi received the F-15 Top Gun Award.
Around the same time he became known as “Kimo,” short for Kimosabe, a nickname for “faithful friend’’ that even his wife and 3-year-old grandson have adopted.
In 1990 and 1991, he served in Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Storm. His F-15, which is a single-seat fighter plane, was one of four that was chasing a foursome of Iraqi MiG-23s one morning in January 1991 when another four Iraqi MiGs took off in the same area.
“Originally, we thought, ‘Well maybe they’re going to try to put us in sort of a vise,’ ” Schiavi recalled. “If we turn now, we’ve got MiGs in front of us and we’ve got MiGs behind us, if those other guys turn around.”
So they took on the four, but one Iraqi aircraft turned around. The US pilots shot down the other three, and one of those hits was attributed to Schiavi.
The air battle was chronicled on the History Channel’s “Dogfights of Desert Storm,” he said.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Schiavi was operations group commander at Otis, which was the point of origin of the first armed fighters to get to New York City in response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
But perhaps one of his biggest challenges, professionally, came in 2005, when Otis lost its F-15s and was left without a mission, said Brigadier General Gary Keefe, who is Schiavi’s boss.
Schiavi came in as the new wing commander and secured an intelligence mission for the group.
“Kimo is without a doubt the best wing commander I have ever interacted with in my 27 years of military experience,” Keefe said. “I have never met a guy who can multitask the way he can.
“Every organization he’s been in, he’s made it better than when he got it,” the general said of Schiavi. “He elevates everyone’s performance.”