CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Marines and spouses with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, attended the 2014 Marine Corps Aviation Association awards dinner March 7 at the Butler Officers’ Club on Camp Foster.
MCAA’s Joe Foss Squadron hosted the dinner and awards presentation to honor this year’s 1st MAW winners.
“Tonight’s a night to recognize the outstanding achievements of the Marines that are within this wing and the contributions they’ve made to the wing and the United States Marine Corps,” said Col. Christopher J. Papaj, the assistant wing commander of 1st MAW and Joe Foss Squadron commander.
The night began with a dinner service to allow the Marines and families to relax and enjoy the evening and celebrate the accomplishments of award recipients, according to Papaj.
The ceremony opened with remarks delivered by Brig. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, commanding general of 1st MAW. He expressed his pride in the Marines and their contributions to the Marine Corps mission in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Many people tend to think (Marine Corps aviation) is flying MV-22s or F-18s,” said Rudder. “But, the things that our air wing does better than anyone else are laying down AM-2 mats, radars, fuels, and our command and control. No one else in the world does it (all like we do).”
The guest of honor for the evening was Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling, the commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.
Robling had words of encouragement and congratulatory statements for the Marines assigned to the various squadrons within the wing. The Marines did exceptional work during on-island training events, exercises throughout the region and Operation Damayan in the Republic of the Philippines.
“Under my command are both I MEF and III MEF,” said Robling. “Almost 90,000 Marines, and this MEF does it better than any other in the Marine Corps, day in and day out, bar none. Everybody’s looking for relevance in this area of operation. Everyone is trying to be like Marines: forward deployed, flexible, ready to go at a moment’s notice. We did a lot of great things (in the Philippines), and we saved a lot of lives because of the way we train, equip and organize.”
At the conclusion of the remarks, Marines received awards for both individual achievements and squadron accomplishments.
Each award was named after Marines who excelled in and revolutionized Marine Corps aviation, such as the A.A. Cunningham Marine Aviator of the year, the James E. Nicholson Noncommissioned Officer Leadership Award, and the Danny L. Radish Marine Enlisted Aircrew of the Year.
Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 was awarded the Commandant’s Aviation Trophy and the Edward C. Dyer Award for Marine Tiltrotor Squadron of the Year in recognition of their work with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit during Operation Damayan.
Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 36 was awarded the Donald E. Davis Award for Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron of the Year.
Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 earned the James E. Hatch Award for Marine Wing Support Squadron of the Year.
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 earned the Henry Wildfang Award for Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron of the Year in recognition of their transport of vital supplies and fuel during Operation Damayan.
The recipients of each award were submitted for the Marine Corps-wide MCAA awards, and will compete against awardees from other MAWs later this year.
Those who earned the awards attributed their victory to fellow Marines in their sections who helped inspire them, according to Capt. Narsico Corral Jr., a plans officer with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, 1st MAW, and recipient of the Earle Hattaway Marine Aviation Ground Officer of the Year for 1st MAW.
“These awards aren’t just for us as individuals, but those Marines that work for us and with us to get the job done,” said Corral. “It’s really for the Marines working the day-to-day. We do a lot of the planning and tell them what to do, but they go out and execute and do it well. This is just a testament to their work.”