AAAA, together with the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE), paid tribute to the 2014 National Functional Awards winners Feb. 5 during the annual Aviation Senior Leaders Conference at Fort Rucker, AL.
AAAA’s President, BG (Ret.) Howard Yellen, and MG Michael D. Lundy, Aviation Branch chief and USAACE commanding general, were joined by CW5 A. Randy Godfrey, chief warrant officer of the branch; CSM Eric Thom, branch command sergeant major; and industry partners, association members and many of the branch’s senior commanders, chief warrant officers and non-commissioned officers to honor this year’s individual and unit winners. The Raytheon Company sponsors
all of the Air Traffic Control awards.
Thanks to the Aviation Center Chapter team led by president, COL (Ret.) Michael N. Riley, for another great event.
Air Traffic Control Unit of the Year
The Air Traffic Control Unit of the Year is Company F, 1st Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade. Based at Shindand Airbase for nine months, the “Phantoms” of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade made significant contributions to the safety of air operations in the joint multinational environment of Regional Command-West, Afghanistan while operating both tower and ground controlled approach (GCA) facilities. CW2 Ryan S. Gallups, representing the commander, CPT Andrew J. Wempe, and 1SG David W. Green accepted the award on behalf of the unit Soldiers.
Air Traffic Control Facility of the Year
The Air Traffic Control Facility of the Year is Sindand Air Base Control Tower, Afghanistan, managed by Co. F, 1st Bn., 1st CAB. Shindand Airbase Control Tower is a multinational facility with U.S Army Soldiers working side by side with Italian, Mongolian, Afghan, and U.S. Air Force personnel. Working out of a tactical “T1 Tower Trainer,” the Soldiers at Shindand Airbase Control Tower are shaping the future of Afghan aviation. CPT Adam S. Zerr and SFC Shawn M. Redondo accepted the award on behalf of the unit Soldiers.
Air Traffic Control Manager of the Year
The Air Traffic Control Manager of the Year is CW2 Edwin Reyes with 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment-Korea, U.S. Forces, Korea. CW2 Edwin Reyes led the air traffic services (ATS) support of the two deepest and fastest aviation operations ever conducted by an Army air traffic manager; Ulchi-Freedom Guardian ‘13 (UFG’13) and Key Resolve ‘14 (KR’14). He coordinated and supervised the rewrite of the Combined Forces Command Korean Battlefield Airspace Doctrine manual, truly the biggest impact an ATS warrant officer has made in recent years.
Air Traffic Controller of the Year
The Air Traffic Controller of the Year is SPC Christopher M. Smades with Co. F, 1st Bn., 52nd Avn. Regt. From leading a tactical team of controllers in the Arctic tundra, to being the first Army Soldier to earn a Control Tower Operator rating at Eielson Air Force Base, as well as earning two additional ratings in Afghanistan, SPC Smades’ accomplishments are extraordinary. Beyond controlling traffic, he played a critical role in training the first Afghan Air Traffic Controllers at Shindand Airbase.
Air Traffic Maintenance Technician of the Year
The Air Traffic Maintenance Technician of the Year is SSG Paul S. Anderson with 2nd Bn., 111th Avn. Regt. SSG Anderson provided mission critical maintenance support for all Air Traffic Control facilities at Udairi Army Airfield (UAAF) and Patton Army Heliport while deployed in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. In addition to his normal duties, he performed as Contracting Officer Representative (COR) for ATC maintenance at UAAF and ensured applicable standards were met with 100 percent accuracy.
Army Aviation Air/Sea Rescue Award
The Army Aviation Air/Sea Rescue award is sponsored by UTC Aerospace Systems and is presented to the crew who has performed a rescue using a personnel hoist. This year there are two recipients: DUSTOFF 66 – CW3 Bradley J. Renneke, pilot in command; CPT John Henry Price, pilot; SGT Christopher W. Jayne, flight medic; SPC Cory P. Schneidtmiller, crew chief; and SPC Israel B. Figueroa (not pictured), back wall medic (from center to left); and DUSTOFF 54, CW3 Daniel N. Sternberg, pilot in command; CW2 Bruce A. Yarbrough, pilot; SFC Scott W. Dinse, flight medic; and SGT Robert A. Blinn, crew chief (from center to right). Both crews are assigned to Co. C., 2nd Bn., 1st Cbt. Avn. Bde.
Working together, DO66 and 54 conducted five separate back-to-back missions to a Black Hawk crash site to extract patients by hoist and pick up other response ground forces, in the extremely sloped mountainous site, with high and gusting winds, and extremely low temperatures. Their teamwork, aviation and medical expertise were instrumental in the evacuation, life-saving medical care, and recovery of seven Category A injured American Soldiers and six American Heroes under extreme environmental conditions and circumstances.
Army Aviation Medicine Award
The Army Aviation Medicine Award is sponsored by the Gentex Corporation and was presented to COL John A. Smyrski III with the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory. As the commander of USAARL, COL John Smyrski implemented a strategy which evolved USAARL’s mission, focused its core competencies, and engaged aviation leaders and program directors at their point of need. USAARL is participating in programs which will enhance situational awareness and prevent pilot spatial disorientation, and will provide safety solutions to aircraft survivability systems. It is presently engaged in transformational studies that are shaping the aviation science and technology landscape.
Army Aviation DUSTOFF Flight Medic of the Year
The Army Aviation DUSTOFF Flight Medic of the Year award, sponsored by Air Methods Corporation, was presented to SGT Derek A. Polite, Co. C, 7th Bn., 101st Avn. Regt., 159th Cbt. Avn. Bde., 101st Abn. Div. (AASLT). SGT Derek A. Polite acted with the utmost courage and selfless service while evacuating wounded U.S. Soldiers under heavy enemy fire on multiple medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions during OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. While inbound to one helicopter landing zone, enemy forces initiated a complex attack on his aircraft. Despite seeing multiple enemy personnel charging his aircraft and trying to kill him, he maintained his composure and focused on the mission – saving a critically wounded U.S. Soldier. SGT Polite was unable to attend; however, his son, Brennan, and wife, SGT Danielle Polite, accepted the award on his behalf.
Army Aviation Trainer of the Year
The Aviation Trainer of the Year is sponsored by L-3 Communications Link Simulation & Training and was presented to CW4 Richard C. Bebb with Eagle Team, Operations Group, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California. As the Aviation Mission Survivability Officer (AMSO) Observer Coach/Trainer (OC/T), CW4 Bebb contributed immensely to the operational readiness of 10 Aviation task forces and brigade combat team staffs in the areas of aviation mission survivability. He also served as an attack/cavalry, brigade aviation element (BAE), and Signal OC/T. Additionally, he functions as the Division Deputy Chief of Plans and was hand selected to serve on the Joint National Training Center project.