Maintenance troops receive AF honors

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- A Bronze Star was awarded to an MH-53 Pave Low production superintendent from the 16th Helicopter Maintenance Squadron at a ceremony in the 20th Special Operation Squadron July 27.

Additionally, Tech. Sgt. Mark Skerrett, 16th HMXS, was presented the Air Force Commendation medal, third oak leaf cluster with valor; and Staff Sgt. Sean Allen, 16th HMXS, received the Air Force Commendation medal with valor.

Master Sgt. David Halvorson received the medal for his achievements while eng-aged in combat in Southwest Asia from Aug. 13, 2003 through Dec. 3, 2003.

"I am honored. It's all due to the guys who were out there with us," said Sergeant Halvorson. "I wish they would have gotten more (recognition) instead of me."

According to the citation, Sergeant Halvorson displayed unmatched mission dedication leading 56 maintenance and supply personnel, spanning eleven career fields and maintaining four MH-53s valued at $168 million.

Shortly after the unit stood up at a forward-deployed location, all four aircraft were placed on a 10-minute alert tasking in pursuit of high-value Iraqi targets. While under constant threat of mortar and rocket attack, Sergeant Halvorson operated from the back of a truck in extreme temperatures with limited resources and no maintenance facilities.

"We were just doing normal stuff," said Sergeant Halvorson. "We needed a place to work out of, so we took the computer out to the truck and worked out of there."

He managed a maintenance team who ensured all four aircraft were fully mission capable in alert status for three consecutive days. His preparedness and leadership directly contributed to a 100 percent launch rate of 15 high-priority missions resulting in the capture of 15 Iraqi insurgents and terrorists.

During this time frame, Sergeant Halvorson directly contributed to his unit accomplishing more than 280 combat sorties totaling more than 785 hours with an unprecedented 100 mission effectiveness.

Sergeants Skerrett and Allen were awarded for their heroic actions while responding to a disabled helicopter in Southwest Asia while under enemy fire. Their skills and expertise resulted in the successful extraction of the helicopter, saving the $40 million aircraft.