Army awards civilian Air Medal for past service
U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command budget analyst Karen Dawson poses with a photo of her former Desert Shield/Desert Storm comrades. Dawson and members of her detachment received the Air Medal nearly 20 years after earning it.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rdecom/4908531104/" title="Air Medal by RDECOM, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4075/4908531104_0ab596038a_m.jpg" width="110" align="right" hspace="10" vspace="10" height="240" alt="Air Medal" /></a>ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The Army presented one of America's highest awards for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight nearly 20 years late to a U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command budget analyst.

Today, Karen Dawson is known for her expert number crunching skills. But in 1990, she was a flight medic with the U.S. Army Reserve's 336th Medical Detachment - a helicopter ambulance unit stationed in New York.

While deployed to Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Dawson and her former battle buddies evacuated sick and wounded Soldiers from the battlefield, as well as transported medical personnel to POW camps to treat Iraqi soldiers.

"There were 60 people in my unit," Dawson said. "This was a team effort for the accomplishments resulting in this award."

Now, almost 20 years later, the recognition of those accomplishments arrived. Thanks to the intervention of U.S. Congressman John Hall (NY-19), the Soldiers of the 336th Medical Detachment overcame the results of "adverse field conditions and administrative oversight" to earn their rightful award.

"It was with great pleasure and honor that I was able to ensure that the members of this brave unit received the recognition they deserved," said Rep. Hall told awardees at the Aug. 14 ceremony at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y. "We're here today to thank them again for their courageous service to our country. As a new generation of American soldiers is fighting in the Middle East, their dedication and professionalism remains a shining example of how to get the mission done."

"Our unit was activated on Thanksgiving Day 1990," Dawson said. "My unit was responsible for providing medevac support for Riyadh. We also provided some medical support for the Iraqi POWs."

Ironically, Dawson said her unit processed through Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. before deploying. She had no idea she would one day work here.

"I'm very proud of my time serving my country," Dawson said. "My family has a long history of serving our country and that continues today with a nephew in the Army National Guard and a niece serving in the Navy. The military has given me the chance to meet and work with some wonderful people."

After five years in the Army Reserve, Dawson switched to the New York Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing -- also in Newburgh N.Y. Dawson is originally from Cornwall, N.Y. near West Point.

"I worked in personnel and as a supply management specialist," she said. "While with the 105th, I was a member of the Base Honor Guard."

Dawson said she participated in awards ceremony, retreat ceremony, and most especially funeral details for veterans.

"Our unit was about one hour north of New York City," she said. "After 9/11, we went to many funerals for NYC firefighters, and policeman from our area. I retired in 2008 after 22 years."

In 2005, Dawson took a federal job at the Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

"Then I was able to get a promotion to work for the Garrison Budget Office," she said. "This past June, I was hired in the G-8 shop as a team leader."

Her job as budget analyst is vital to the command. RDECOM is a team of more than 17,000 civilian employees working to empower, unburden and protect the Warfighter to enable the dominance of the Army.

"I'd like to continue to learn my new job and we'll see where that will lead me," she said.

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Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16