Military Notebook: Charleston, S.C., police honor former Robins airman

February 10, 2013 

A former Robins Air Force Base airman is now the Charleston (S.C.) Police Department’s Citizen of the Year.

According to a base release, former 78th Security Forces airman Jeffery Aldana was given the award at a ceremony Feb. 1 for stopping to help a severely wounded Charleston police officer.

Aldana and his family were vacationing in early 2012 when they witnessed the officer get struck by an SUV while he was directing traffic.

“He flew pretty far,” Aldana said in the release. “I remember thinking ‘Oh God, I hope he’s OK.’ The impact sounded like an actual vehicle hitting another vehicle. That’s how hard he was hit.”

Aldana immediately ran to the officer’s aid and began using the training he had learned in the Air Force to deal with injuries. Once EMTs arrived, Aldana directed traffic until other officers arrived.

The officer, Wes Foster, suffered numerous injuries and didn’t return to full duty until December.

“I have no doubt, I owe a lot of what Jeff did to my recovery,” he said.

Aldana was still a staff sergeant at Robins at the time of the incident and deployed a week later. He has since left the Air Force and is now a full-time student at Middle Georgia State College.

116th Air Control Wing wins outstanding unit award

The 116th Air Control Wing at Robins has won the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its operations from Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2012.

According to a release on the 116th’s website, the award is given to units that “perform exceptional meritorious service, accomplish specific acts of outstanding achievement, excel in combat operations against an armed enemy of the U.S., or distinctly conduct military operations involving conflict with, or exposure to, a hostile action by any opposing foreign force.”

“The competition is extremely keen, and the dedication and commitment of the members enable the Air National Guard to fulfill its commitment to the missions of peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, domestic improvement, and most important of all -- defense of America,” Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt, Air National Guard director, said in the release.

In conjunction with the 461st Air Control Wing, the 116th operates the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System. During the award period, the Joint STARS flew in support of six combatant commands, including homeland defense missions, counter insurgency support, the conflict in Libya, crisis response and maritime missions.

Joint STARS has been continuously deployed for more than 10 years supporting operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and others.

Team Joint STARS has earned a 95.8 percent mission effectiveness rating while flying aircraft that averages 44 years of service, the release stated.

878th Engineer Battalion deploys

A departure ceremony Friday sent off the Georgia Army National Guard’s 878th Engineer Battalion for its one-year deployment to Afghanistan.

More than 100 troops from around Georgia, including members from Warner Robins and Milledgeville, are part of the deployment. They will conduct route-clearing operations to find and dispose of explosive devices, according to a release.

Members of the unit also have served in Iraq.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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