Military News

Friday, September 11, 2015

Special mission aviator earns coveted award

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 degree.

"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.

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