AAAA honors Soldiers at awards ceremony on Fort Rucker
February 2, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 2, 2012) -- Fort Rucker hosted the annual Army Aviation Association of America Awards presentation at The Landing where Soldiers, Family members and members of the community came to honor the winners Jan 25.
Among those in attendance was Maj. Gen. James C. McConnville, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault and Fort Campbell, Ky., and guest speaker for the event, who spoke of the importance of Aviation in support of troops that are on the ground.
"We need to make sure that people understand what Aviation is all about," said McConnville. "It's about supporting those troops on the ground.
"As we move forward into the future, I think we need to strive to maintain the trust that has been built on these courageous Aviators," said the general. "We will always be there for the troops when they need us -- that's the reputation that we've established and we need to continue that."
The awards were given in two categories: the Air Traffic Control Awards and the AAAA National Awards, of which there are subcategories in which the awards are presented to different Soldiers.
Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, and McConnville were among those that presented the awards.
The awards presentation began with the ATC awards in which the U.S. Army ATC Activity annually selects the air traffic control awardees in five separate categories, according to Col. Kevin J. Christensen, 110th Aviation Brigade commander and master of ceremonies.
ATC Unit of the Year
The 2011 AAAA ATC Unit of the Year Award was presented to F Company, 3rd Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Knighthawk, according to Christensen.
"They provided exceptionally meritorious service as the tactical air traffic services company in support of the 10th CAB," he said. "They contributed greatly to the safety and efficiency of tactical error control in Regional Combat Command East Afghanistan … and provided safe and orderly control of over 89,000 unmanned aircraft systems, and coalition military and civilian aircraft."
ATC Facility of the Year
This award was presented to Shank Tower, F Co., 3rd Bn., 10th CAB, Task Force Knighthawk, for providing exceptionally meritorious services, and a forward deployed tactical ATC facility in supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and the global war on terrorism, said Christensen.
"They seamlessly integrated the air traffic navigation integration system on Shank Army Airfield in order to establish a facility that was able to provide air traffic and radar services to joint and multinational forces," he said. "This provided safe and expeditious flow of all traffic in and around Forward Operating Base Shank and Regional Combat Command East."
ATC maintenance Technician of the Year
This award was presented to Sgt. Donny D. Wilson, F Company, 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Eagle Lift, for his contributions that directly improved the combat effectiveness of the brigade and division during several unit training missions and Operation Enduring Freedom, according to Christensen.
"His immediate response, following a direct hit from a rocket that damaged the tower of FOB Wolverine, allowed the ATC center to be upgraded to a partially mission capable status only 12 hours after the attack, and was put back into service due to [Wilson's] relentless hard work."
ATC Manager of the Year
The 2011 ATC manager of the year award was presented to Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin A. Grissett, F Co., 3rd Bn., 10th CAB, Task Force Knighthawk, said the master of ceremonies.
"He was instrumental in the expansion of the ATC and services at FOB Shank," he said. "His dedication to the U.S. Army combat mission and tireless efforts to improve the safety and efficiency of air traffic control at FOB Shank are directly responsible for the pending establishment of FOB Shank Airfield as a full functioning instrumental flight rules airfield."
Air Traffic Controller of the Year
This award was co-presented to Staff Sgt. Antonio Bustion Jr. and Spc. Taylor D. Wilds of F Co., 3rd Bn., 10th CAB, Task Force Knighthawk, said Christensen.
"[Bustion] served forward deployed ATC chief in support of Operation Enduring Freedom," he said. "He developed a comprehensive training program that enhanced the knowledge of 10 ground-controlled approach operators and developed scenario-based training."
Wilds served as a shift-leader at FOB Shank with a "first-rate work ethic, unwavering dedication to duty, and tremendous knowledge in ATC that resulted in him earning a facility rating in just seven days," said Christensen.
"His shift safely controlled over 50,000 fixed-wing, rotary-wing and unmanned aircraft system and air frames that included joint and multinational military and civilian operations," he said.
After the presentation of the ATC awards, Christensen announced the presentation the AAAA National Awards in four categories.
Trainer of the Year
This award was presented to CW5 Guillermo Soto, 159th CAB, Task Force Thunder, according to Christensen.
"His efforts…prepared countless Army Aviators to excel in combat," he said, "and his dedication to training partnered Afghan and United Arab Emirates Aviation units fundamentally altered the way U.S. Army Aviation approaches stability operations.
"He was chosen to lead the complex and challenging task of partnering with the Afghan Air Force at Kandahar Air Wing," Christensen added.
Aviation Medicine Award
Capt. Teresa A. Weber, 7th Bn., 101 Avn. Regt., 159th CAB, Task Force Eagle Lift, was the recipient of the Aviation Medicine Award for expertly providing superb medical care to Soldiers of the largest task force within the 159th CAB, while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, said Christensen.
Weber managed and cared for more that 1,000 Soldiers and Aviators, treated over 620 patients within her first six months of deployment and performed over 150 flight physicals, he said.
"Devoted to long-term Soldier wellness and care, [Weber] personally developed, implemented and managed a brigade smoking cessation program," said Christensen.
Dedicated Unhesitating Service to our Fighting Forces Medic of the Year
The DUSTOFF medic of the year award was presented to Sgt. Aaron S. Halcomb, C Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, according to the master of ceremonies.
"[Halcomb] served as the sole medic for eight mass casualty events, all with more than five patients each," said Christensen. "In a single mission, he simultaneously treated six double and triple amputees injured in an improvised explosive blast.
"His ability to manage chaos on the battlefield while treating multiple traumatic injuries has resulted in the evacuation of 255 patients during 340 combat hours," he said.
Air/Sea Rescue Award
CW4 Kenneth G. Brodhead, CW2 Erik M. Sabiston, Sgt. Julia Bringloe and Spc. David Capps, all of 3rd Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Knighthawk, were the winners of this award, according to Christensen.
"During Operation Hammer Down, the crew provided constant medevac support to the battalion sized operation for a 72-hour period," he said. "Throughout the operation, the crew conducted multiple hoist evacuations … in the face of direct-fire, zero-illumination conditions and constant inclement weather in one of Afghanistan's steepest valleys."
"The fact that our Aviators are going out there and doing great things has allowed other senior commanders to take on the cause and understand that Aviation provides value," said McConnville. "We exist to support the troops on the ground, and I feel very blessed to be part of this Branch and to serve with each and every one of you."