128 ARW Airmen receive AFA awards

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jenna Lenski
  • 128th Air Refueling Wing

U.S. Airmen with the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, were presented awards from the Air Force Association at the 2014 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington Sept. 18.

Maj. Jason Park, Capt. Rory Cattelan, both pilots with the 128 ARW, and Staff Sgt. Tyson Krug, a boom operator with the 128 ARW, were awarded the AFA Earl T. Ricks Award, which is given to Air National Guard members who have demonstrated outstanding airmanship.

Specifically, that aircrew safely and successfully handled an in-flight emergency aboard a KC-135R Stratotanker while deployed at the 379th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

On August 28, 2013, the KC-135 aircrew experienced an unusual and dangerous situation when they struck a flock of ducks during an aerial refueling flight in southern Afghanistan.  After discontinuing refueling, the aircrew of the receiver aircraft helped to identify the severity of the bird strike.

The KC-135 aircrew coordinated with ground support to safely recover the aircraft.  In the best interest of the aircrew, the aircraft and the mission, they returned to Al Uded Air Base instead of diverting to a base in Afghanistan.  By doing so, they saved the U.S. Air Force money in manpower and equipment and expedited the repair of the aircraft.

Park, Cattelan, and Krug attended the 2014 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition, along with Col. Jeffrey Cashman, the acting vice wing commander of the 128 ARW, to be recognized and receive their award.

Senior Master Sgt. Mike Schmaling, a first sergeant with the 128 ARW, was also a recipient of an AFA award. He was jointly awarded the AFA George W. Bush Award, along with his employer, Faith Technologies, Inc.

The AFA George W. Bush Award is given to civilian employers of Air National Guard members in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the total force mission.

Schmaling, the operations manager, has been an employed with Faith Technologies, Inc., an electrical contracting company based in Menasha, Wis., for nearly 15 years.

"I would not have the success and achievements of my military career if it were not for the support of my family and civilian employer," said Schmaling.

Schmaling and a representative from Faith Technologies, Inc. also attended the 2014 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition to receive their award.