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62nd APS airman awarded Bronze Star

Master Sgt. Derek J. Thompson honored last week

Col. Scovill W. Currin, 62nd Airlift Wing Commander, presents the Bronze Star award to Master Sgt. Derek J. Thompson, inside the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron Aug. 28. Photo credit: Airman Mikayla A. Heineck

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Master Sgt. Derek J. Thompson from the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron was presented a Bronze Star award Aug. 28 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Thompson distinguished himself by meritorious achievement as Aerial Port Superintendent, 443rd Air Expeditionary Squadron, 332nd Expeditionary Mission Support Group, while deployed to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, from Oct. 6, 2017, to April 10, 2018.

The award was presented to Thompson by Col. Scovill W. Currin, 62nd Airlift Wing Commander.

Currin commended Thompson on his hard work stating that for a master sergeant to be awarded a Bronze Star for a six-month deployment is not normal or something seen very often.

"It is a big deal," said Currin. "It's incredibly hard to deploy away from loved ones, the people we care about, and go forward and fight, but those bonds that we make while we're gone are something that you will cherish forever."

While deployed, Thompson's leadership was instrumental in the execution of combat airpower in a distinctive squadron comprised of 163 airmen from 30 different Air Force Specialty Codes.

His efforts enabled 435 combat strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria targets, the elimination of over 525 enemy fighters, and the destruction of 583 insurgent vehicles and buildings, resulting in the liberation of 19 Iraqi villages from ISIS.

Thompson set the standard for air transportation operations amongst coalition forces, cultivating a consolidated joint logistics effort among movement control teams from 30 units including British, Danish and Australian forces. Specifically, Thompson led 14 Aerial Port members supporting the forward deployment of six MQ-1 Predators and four counter-rocket artillery mortar systems to Afghanistan to support Operation FREEDOM'S SENTINEL.

He anchored aerial port operations that moved $500 million in combat support equipment, resupplying and sustaining 5,000 coalition personnel.

Recognizing critical deficiencies within the Logistics Contracting Augmentation Program, Thompson assumed contracting officer duties for the U.S. Army, certifying compliance with the movement control team's $500,000 contract.

His dedication to service ensured that the aerial port loaded and transported more than 12,000 tons of cargo and 13,000 passengers on 800 quick turn missions, amassing the most tonnage moved during the previous decade of rotations at Al Asad Air Base.

"In the six months you were there, you all set a decade-long record," said Currin.

After Thompson was presented the award he said a few words to the audience.

"I really want to take a second to thank everyone that was back there with me," said Thompson. "This is as much for you guys as it is for me."

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