|DMNA Home page||More News Stories|
Dated: Fri, Sep 23, 2016
Seven New York Air National Guard Airmen were recognized for their professionalism by the Air Force Association during the groups 2016 Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor Maryland.
Six Airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing, all residents of the Capitol Region, are being recognized by the Air Force Association for outstanding airmanship during a Jan. 19, 2015 mission into Antarctica. The Airmen received the Association’s Earl T. Ricks Award on Monday, Sept. 19, during the association’s 2016 Air Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Sept. 17-19.
Honored were: • Lt. Col. Stephen Yandik, pilot, from Hudson, N.Y.; • Major Justin Garren, co-pilot, from Gloversville, N.Y.; • Capt. Jefferson Wood, navigator, from Wynantskill, N.Y.; • Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Hubbley, flight engineer, from Scotia • Tech. Sgt. Michael Wallace, loadmaster, from Mechanicville; And Staff Sgt. Logan Brennan, loadmaster from Broadalbin.
The Earl T. Ricks Award, named for the first Air National Guard officer to head the National Guard Bureau, recognizes outstanding airmanship by Air National Guard aircrew and personnel.
Also recognized by the Air Force Association was Master Sgt. Master Sgt. Christian Hammaren, a member of the 105th Airlift Wing.
He received the Chief Master Sgt. Dick Red Award. The award recognizes National Guard Airmen for outstanding maintenance actions.
The six 109th Airlift Wing Airmen were flying an LC-130 “Skibird” the 2,400 miles from Christchurch, New Zealand to McMurdo Station, Antarctica�”the main American base on the continent�”when weather conditions began deteriorating.
The crew had already passed the point of safe return�”which meant they did not have the fuel necessary to return to Christchurch�”and weather conditions made landing at Williams Field, the main airstrip serving McMurdo and a New Zealand base, questionable.
The airmen were forced to land their aircraft in the “whiteout landing area” instead. The whiteout landing area consists of several square miles of the Ross Ice Shelf near McMurdo that’s been surveyed and found to be free of crevasses and also to be relatively smooth.
Airmen following a set of protocols can lower their plan onto the ground even if they cannot see the horizon.
According to the award citation, the crew of Skier 72 successfully landed the aircraft in zero foot ceiling and zero miles visibility. The snow and the horizon were the same color, and there were no shadows causing the crew to be effectively blind looking outside the aircraft.
"We are extremely proud of these Airmen and that they will be receiving this prestigious recognition," said Lt. Col. Christian Sander, the commander of the 109th Operations Group. "They exhibited the most amazing compilation of teamwork, risk management, quick thinking, situational awareness, and airmanship in their heroic whiteout landing on open snow."
Hammaren, a Westtown resident, is a veteran of 24 years in the New York Air National Guard. He serves as the 105th Wing and Operations Group First Sergeant. He has worked in a variety of maintenance positions during his service with the 105th Airlift Wing.
Hammaren holds an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Occupational therapy from Orange County Community College and a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management from Manhattan College.
His awards include the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Outstanding Achievement Medal, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Air Force Reserve Meritorious Service Medal.
The association’s Dick Red Award honors Chief Master Sgt. Dick Red who was the first enlisted airman to win the Legion of Merit during World War II. In 1944 he built a unique camera mount in the nose section of a P-38 Lightning fighter to use as a photo reconnaissance aircraft.
The Air Force Association is a non-profit, independent, professional military and aerospace education association that promotes public understanding of air power and its role in national security.