FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 20, 2011) -- By the way Dan Stamaris, Aviation Center Logistics Command quality assurance specialist, works, it would be almost impossible to tell he has a disability.

That's part of what helped him earn the Outstanding Employee with a Disability Award at the headquarters building Oct. 13, according to Trish Durham, ACLC Logistics Directorate chief.

"He is an absolutely exceptional employee," she said. "He's not just part of a team, but part of our Family. He's extremely dedicated to the war fighters and, as a former prisoner of war, he has valuable insight that he has shared with those going through the (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) program."

According to a write up by Durham, while on active-duty during the 1991 Gulf War, retired Staff Sgt. Daniel Stamaris was part of a search-and-rescue team that volunteered to rescue a downed F-16 fighter pilot. During the attempt on Feb. 27, 1991, the Blackhawk helicopter in which he was flying was shot down. Only three survived the crash, including Stamaris. They were taken as POWs by the Iraqis and held for seven days. Stamaris sustained extensive injuries, including a broken left foot, broken pelvis and shattered knee.

Upon his release by the Iraqis and return to the U.S., he was treated at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center for seven weeks and had to learn to walk again.

Today, he lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder daily as well as the aftermath of the physical injuries to his body. There are days when it is difficult for him to walk. However, talking about his ordeal and working through the discomfort is cathartic for him, she added.

Stamaris said he never thought about winning an award for his service, he just wanted to do the job to the best of his ability and to make a difference.

"This is a great honor to me," he said. "Not just on behalf of myself, but for all of those with a disability. This just goes to show that, just because you have a disability doesn't mean you can't be very important to the mission and the organization."

Stamaris is a vital part of a team of dedicated personnel responsible for the superior oversight of a $3.2 billion, multi-year contract, the largest maintenance contract in the Army, Durham said.

His contributions directly contributed to ACLC increasing the mission capable rate on the helicopter training fleet of over 535 aircraft above 70 percent, a first in Fort Rucker history and crucial to the production of over 3,000 Army Aviators annually. His work has helped the mission capable rate rise to 71.9 percent across the entire training fleet.

Col. Donald N. Galli, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence chief of staff, was also at the ceremony to present Stamaris with the award.

"It's an honor and privilege for me to be able to do this today," he said. "Dan is an American Soldier and American Hero. He continues to serve our Army today. We at Fort Rucker greatly appreciate everything he's done and is doing for us and the Army."