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Four Airmen with the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 128th Air Refueling Wing received Air Force Association awards Sept. 18 at the 2014 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C.

Maj. Jason Park and Capt. Rory Cattelan, both pilots with the 128th Air Refueling Wing, and Staff Sgt. Tyson Krug, a boom operator with the 128th, were awarded the AFA Earl T. Ricks Award, given to Air National Guard members who have demonstrated outstanding airmanship.

Specifically, that aircrew safely and successfully handled an in-flight emergency aboard a KC-135R Stratotanker while deployed in support of the 379th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in the Central Command theater of operations.

On Aug. 28, 2013, the KC-135 aircrew struck a flock of ducks during an aerial refueling flight in southern Afghanistan. After discontinuing refueling, the aircrew of the receiver aircraft helped to identify the severity of the bird strike.

The KC-135 aircrew coordinated with ground support to safely recover the aircraft. In the best interest of the aircrew, the aircraft and the mission, they returned to the Combined Air and Space Operations Center rather than divert to a base in Afghanistan. By doing so, they saved the Air Force money in manpower and equipment, and expedited the repair of the aircraft.

Park, Cattelan, and Krug attended the 2014 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition, along with Col. Jeffrey Cashman, the acting vice wing commander of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, to be recognized and receive their award.

Senior Master Sgt. Mike Schmaling, a first sergeant with the 128th Air Refueling Wing, also received an AFA award. He and his employer, Faith Technologies, Inc., were jointly awarded the AFA George W. Bush Award. That award recognizes civilian employers of Air National Guard members for their outstanding contributions to the total force mission.

Schmaling has been an employed with Faith Technologies, Inc. – an electrical contracting company based in Menasha, Wisconsin – for nearly 15 years.

“I would not have the success and achievements of my military career if it were not for the support of my family and civilian employer,” Schmaling said.