Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

TOP STORY >>Airman hero given medal

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

For his leadership at Camp Bucca, Iraq, a Little Rock Air Force Base antiterrorism officer was awarded the Bronze Star at a ceremony on base Tuesday.

First Lt. George Hern, an airman from the 314th Security Forces Squadron, received the military’s highest honor for his actions during his September 2006 to June 2007 tour in southern Iraq.

As a flight commander at Camp Bucca, a holding facility for Iraqi insurgents, Hern was in charge of aiding personnel from multiple services with security outside of the base and during convoys.

Leading teams outside the wire was a tough situation, Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz, base commander, said of Hern’s responsibility.

“His calm, collective leadership brought everything under control and no one was hurt,” Schatz said. “It’s a tough mission when you are in insurgent country – normally you’re behind the wire in the safety of a defended base,” he said.

The general described one mission in which a convoy was attacked by an improvised explosive device (IED) and Hern successfully set up a defensive area around the convoy and took care of those involved.

Hern’s Bronze Star citation states, as read by Master Sgt. Mark Evans, narrator for the ceremony, “For exceptionally meritorious service during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His outstanding dedication to duty during combat operations in Iraq contributed to the overwhelming success of the command’s mission.”

Schatz said he told Hern while pinning on his medal that the citation did not adequately cover his actions and there was much more to it.

“Congratulations on a successful deployment and thank you for your services,” Schatz told him, adding, “we are awfully proud of the job you did there.”

Hern, 32, thanked his family, wife Adri, son Christian and parents George Sr. and Barbara (who came down from Ohio for the ceremony), for their love and support not only during this recent deployment, but also throughout his 13 years in the Air Force.

A security forces member from day one, Hern has been stationed at LRAFB since 2005. He was stationed here while a staff sergeant from 2001-2003 as a K-9 handler.