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Noble Efforts

By Christi Spargur

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Scott AFB Airmen Recognized at USO 'Salute to Heroes'
(March 29, 2011)

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SAINT LOUIS, Mo. (March 28, 2011) - The USO of Missouri hosted its seventh annual "Salute to Heroes" dinner March 24 in St. Louis where 14 service members were recognized. Among the honorees are five Team Scott airmen.

"The annual Salute to Heroes dinner is a way for us to honor members of the Armed Forces in the local area who have distinguished themselves as exceptional members of the military and their communities," said Kathy O'Connor, executive director of the USO of Missouri.

The process for selecting the winners began last August when military units within the St. Louis region were sent nomination forms. The winners were selected by a representative of each branch of service and the USO Awards Committee based upon three criteria -- leadership, military accomplishments, and service to others, in five rank-based categories from junior enlisted to senior officer. This year the USO of Missouri received over 20 nominations.

"It is a rigorous peer-based selection process," said Jim Bruchas, current president of the USO of Missouri's board of directors.

O'Connor said, "It is always heartwarming to read the accomplishments of all these young members of our armed forces. These are the wonderful stories that the public never hears about. Going through the selection process makes me so extremely proud of our Armed Forces and honored to serve them and their families."

Team Scott honorees

Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Nichols is the superintendent for the 932d Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight. During a recent deployment, he led a high-risk mission where his team seized the largest cache of improvised explosive device pressure plates in southern Afghanistan and removed 20 IEDs from enemy hands, all while engaging in a 36-hour firefight. He is a detective with the Louisville Police Department, Louisville, Ky., and serves as the team leader with the Louisville Metro Police Bomb Squad in his civilian career.

Master Sgt. Richard Bullock, with the 932d Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight recently returned from a deployment to Iraq where he led 46 EOD combat missions under threat of insurgent attack without incident. His actions were instrumental in the destruction of 22,100 ordnance items totaling 9,700 pounds net explosive weight. Aside from his military duties, he sponsors youth at the Missouri Department of Corrections Youth Facility and participates in the Missouri Share the Harvest Program.

Senior Airman Dexter McElhiney is a member of the 932nd Medical Squadron serving on its Critical Care Aeromedical Transport Team. He inventoried and restocked CCAT medical equipment and supplies, logging over $300,000 in unit equipment packages, and established a system for immediate transfer of the equipment. In addition to his military duties, he is a volunteer fireman for the Fairview Heights Fire Department. He is pursuing a medical degree from Western Illinois University.

Tech. Sgt. Matthew Spatz is the training and mobility non-commissioned officer in charge for the 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron's Fuels Management Flight. His duties include administering the flight's Career Development Course program and upgrade training and overseeing the flight's Government Purchase Card program with more than $20,000 in purchase supplies annually. His quick reaction in pulling an unconscious airman from a locked garage to safety during a suicide attempt saved the life of the Airman and earned him the Single Event Air Force Achievement Medal.

Senior Airman Leslie Ellis served with the 407th Air Expedition Group, Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and Tactical Security Element during her deployment to Ali Air Base, Iraq, from October 2009 to April 2010.

While deployed, she performed 128 outside the wire missions covering more than 6,000 kilometers and resulting in the capture of the Office of Special Investigations' number one most wanted individual. As a result of her efforts, she was named Air Mobility Command's Outstanding Security Forces Flight-Level Airman for 2010. She is an installation entry controller with the 375th Security Forces Squadron.

"This event is focused on [the award] winners and our customers [America's uniformed men and women], but it also brings to light to the local community and our corporate sponsors what wonderful work is being accomplished by our military." said Jim Bruchas.

USO of Missouri's 7th Annual Salute to Heroes Honorees
  • Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Nichols -- 932nd Civil Engineer Squadron
  • Master Sgt. Richard Bullock -- 932nd Civil Engineer Squadron
  • Tech. Sgt. Matthew Spatz -- 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron
  • Senior Airman Leslie Ellis (Top Honoree) -- 375th Security Forces Squadron
  • Senior Airman Dexter McElhiney -- 932nd Medical Squadron
  • Sgt. 1st Class Jefferson Green -- Human Resource Command, St. Louis
  • Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey Shilanski -- 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, St. Louis
  • Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Fields -- Delta Company, 554th Engineer Battalion, Fort Leonard Wood
  • Sgt. 1st Class Charles Shuck -- Company D, 795th Military Police Battalion, Fort Leonard Wood
  • Staff Sgt. Wilfred Aho -- Delta Company, 35th Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood
  • Petty Officer 1st Class Sam Landherr -- U.S. Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River, St. Louis
  • Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Daugherty -- Navy Operational Support Center, St. Louis
  • Operational Specialist Seaman Ian Parnell -- Navy Operational Support Center, St. Louis
  • Petty Officer 2nd Class Donald Rush -- Base Support Unit Detached, U.S. Coast Guard, St. Louis
By Christi Spargur
Headquarters Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
Copyright 2011

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