Reserve Citizen Airmen Honored By Melbourne Chamber of Commerce In 10th Annual Valor Awards
By Maj. Cathleen Snow, 920th Public Affairs // September 2, 2018
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Ten Reserve Citizen Airmen were honored with Valor Awards, one posthumously, by the Melbourne, Florida Chamber of Commerce during their 10th annual Valor Awards on August 22, along with police, firefighters and other first responders throughout the area.
“It’s an extraordinary night full of energy and emotion; honoring the bravest men and women among us,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott while addressing the roomful of more than 300 attendees.
The Valor Awards are meant to acknowledge those in public safety and military service who go above and beyond what they’re asked to do. Each of the recipients was nominated by their commanders for extraordinary job performance.
Among those honored was Master Sgt. William Posch of the 920th RQW. Posch, who served 10 of his 18 years in the U.S. Air Force with the 920th, was killed during an operation along the Iraqi-Syrian border in March of this year.
His mother, Susan Posch, represented him at the awards banquet and accepted his Medal of Valor on stage with his teammates Master Sgt. Darrell Williams, Staff Sgt. Christopher Moore and Staff Sgt. Lee Von Hack-Prestinary.
Col. Kurt Matthews, 920th Rescue Wing commander and Lt. Col. Tim Hanks, 308th Rescue Squadron commander, were on stage to congratulate them and don them with their medals.
The Medal of Valor is given for bravery and heroism for those who “knowingly and deliberately placed themselves in peril.”
The narrator, Max Green, VP Sales, Harris Public Safety and Professional Communications, detailed the rescue mission they participated which unfolded throughout July 7, 2017 and into the early hours of July 8 when a team of 920th Rescue Wing Airmen flew four aircraft from Patrick Air Force Base, on a dangerous over water long-range rescue successfully rescuing two German citizens whose sailboat caught fire approximately 500 nautical miles off the east coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“Our incredible Airmen distinguished themselves during that Herculean rescue effort with the timely response getting to the injured men and the decisive actions of the aircrew and Guardian Angel team members in a challenging mission involving more than 30 hours of collective flying, eight air-to-air refuelings transferring 16,600 pounds of fuel; a precisely executed open-ocean rescue insertion of the Guardian Angel team by skydiving from the HC-130; and a highly technical nighttime shipboard patient exfil; finally delivering the patients to an Orlando hospital; resulting in both lives saved.”
The Award of Merit was given to those who performed their jobs with “exceptional skill, expertise or innovation with unprecedented unique or positive results,” according to the Chamber.
Recipients from the 920th Rescue Wing who flew one of the HC-130 combat-search-and-rescue aircraft included: Capt Daniel Morgese (Aircraft Commander); Capt Kenneth Creager (Navigator); and TSgt James Reynolds (Airborne Mission Systems Specialist), all three are assigned to the 39th Rescue Squadron.
Finally, the Life Saving Award was given to those who took action in a life-threatening situation. Recipients included Lt. Col. Roderick R. Stout, 920th Operations Support Squadron; Master Sergeant Gregory Goetz, 301st Rescue Squadron; and Staff Sergeant Davy Brinkmann, 301st Rescue Squadron.
On November 7, 2017, the men responded to a request for assistance to evacuate a 72-year old man suffering from acute appendicitis from an underway cruise ship 500 miles east of Cape Canaveral, Florida. All three men immediately volunteered. Stout was selected as the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter flight lead. Due to the distance out to sea, and the time needed to reach a medical facility, the mission pushed the limits of human and machine endurance.
The high-risk operation required extended overwater flight and a patient rescue in low illumination conditions. During the mission, Colonel Stout flew more than eight hours, aerial refueled three times and covered approximately 1,000 miles. Goetz and Brinkmann coordinated the live-hoist evacuation from the upper deck of the cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas.
The men overcame the mission’s many challenges including long-range navigation, low illumination, no divert points, critical fuel calculations, and fatigue. The mission culminated with the transfer of the survivor to medical personnel at Holmes Regional Medical Center, ultimately saving the life of the 72-year old patient.
While it took a team of approximately 80 Airmen to execute both rescue missions, the awardees were selected for their prominent roles in representing the successful missions.
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