Aircrew wins ABMC of the year

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chris Holmes
  • 116th Air Control Wing
A Joint STARS crew recently received the Air Battle Crew of the Year Award for 2006. 

The Air Force Association presented the award to the crew from the 116th Air Control Wing's 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron Sept. 24. 

The award recognized the members of "Crew 3" for sustained aerial support in the E-8C while assigned to 379th Expeditionary Operations Group, flying in Operation Iraqi Freedom from November to February. 

As the 12th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron, the crew flew 18 combat missions and provided command and control intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to Combined Air Operations Center and Army and Marine ground commanders. 

As the premier air battle management entity in theater for OIF, Crew 3 supported more than 30 combat offensives, thwarting terrorist activities. 

"Winning the award is proof that the blended wing concept does work," said Maj. Thomas Grabowski, 12th ACCS assistant director of operations. 

Crew 3 members were lauded for their "airmanship, courage and leadership under combat conditions." 

The cohesiveness of the crew and the importance of the mission were apparent to everyone. 

"It says a lot about the individuals that came together as a team to do that much more," said 12th ACCS commander, Lt. Col. Henry Cyr. 

Flying more than 150 hours in hostile skies, they played a vital role in protecting convoy operations on supply routes and provided critical information for offensive combat operations to kill, capture and deny sanctuary to anti-coalition forces. 

The crew's situational awareness helped prevent friendly forces from otherwise undetected enemy engagement. Their decisiveness saved countless Army, Marine and coalition forces' lives during enemy contact. 

"One mission that helped the crew win the award was when Sergio noticed movement a few clicks from a British forward operating base and called for a rapid response team," said Col. Grabowski of Senior Airman Sergio Serrano, 12 ACCS airborne operations technician. 

Calling in the movement helped to discover a stockpile of enemy weapons. 

"It turned out to be enemy Al Quada and when they tracked them back to their house the response team found 50 hand grenades, an explosively formed projectile and several hundred rounds of ammunition,"  said Airman Serrano.

"What I saw was one track going somewhere and another going to another place, said Airman Serrano, who has been deployed three times. "That's when I tracked them back to the farm house." 

Knowing that the hard work that goes into preparing for the mission, leaving families and going to the desert time and time again is being recognized is very rewarding. 

"To see them represent all of the crews that do that and get recognition on a national level, I'm very proud of them," said Col. Cyr. "It's great to see all that hard work get recognition get recognized outside of our little world here."