by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
9/11/2015 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Staff
Sgt. Sven Raemer, a special mission aviator assigned to the 34th
Weapons Squadron, was recently awarded the Staff Sgt. Henry "Red" Erwin
Outstanding Enlisted Aircrew Member Airman of the Year Award.
The annual award is given to an enlisted aircrew member for their
outstanding accomplishments related to flight activities, how their
leadership abilities impact unit members, and what actions the Airman
has taken for self-improvement through education and training.
As a special mission aviator, Raemer mans a .50 caliber machine gun on
an HH-60G Pave Hawk or AC-130 Gunship, and is in charge of ensuring the
safety of passengers and equipment before, during and after a flight.
While serving as a special mission aviator with the 56th Rescue
Squadron, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, from January 2013 to
December 2013, Raemer deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"There was an Afghan soldier who had been shot in the head," Raemer
said. "We landed right away and picked him up. Less than five minutes
later we were back at the forward operating base and we got him into the
hospital. A couple of months later, we were doing a regular medivac of
transferring a patient to Bagram (Air Base). While at the hospital we
ran into that Afghan solider who had taken a round through the head. He
survived and was learning to walk and talk again. That was pretty cool."
According to his award citation, Raemer flew 127 combat hours over 86
missions where his technical expertise and airmanship led to the
recovery of 64 casualties from the battlefield.
In addition to his actions while deployed, Raemer also showed leadership
and self-improvement, furthering his education by completing four
college level entry placement exams and working towards a Bachelor's
"We're proud of him. It's not likely that you're going to get an award
like this," said Tech. Sgt. James Juniper, 34th WS special mission
aviator. "For being new to the unit, it shows that he's the one we
wanted to hire; it shows that we picked the right person."
Staff Sgt. Henry E. Erwin, the award's namesake, served as a radio
operator aboard a B-29 Superfortress in the Asia-Pacific theater during
World War II. During a 1945 bombing mission over Koriyama, Japan, a
phosphorus bomb prematurely exploded in the aircraft seriously wounding
him. As smoke filled the plane, Erwin was able to throw the bomb out of a
window, saving the aircraft and its crew. For his actions, Erwin was
awarded the Medal of Honor.
"[Erwin's story] just epitomizes doing everything you can possibly do for your crew," Raemer said.