435th CRG Wins Multiple Awards

  • Published
  • By Capt. Lou J. Burton
  • 435th AGOW

The 435th Contingency Response Group won three separate 2022 Air Mobility Support Operations Award categories: two at the squadron level and one individual award, April 2023. The awards recognize the 435th Contingency Response Squadron and the 435th Contingency Response Support Squadron as the premier expeditionary squadrons in the Air Force.  

The 435th CRS won the Contingency Response Unit of the Year Award. The award recognizes the CRS for excellence in personnel development, unit training, innovation, and mission impact. The 435th CRS was the first unit in the DoD to the Ukrainian border. They established the first and most critical logistics hub in NATO’s used to support Ukraine. Additionally, the squadron set up and received the 82nd Airborne Division into the European theater and partnered with them to help evacuees from Ukraine.  Finally, the 435th CRS advanced and achieved Agile Combat Employment objectives by adding the ability to rapidly refuel and launch F-15Es and MQ-9s back into the fight, a new capability not only for the contingency response enterprise, but an emerging one for the Air Force.   

“It is not often that a unit can have such a large impact on the strategic environment, but our squadron was trained, ready, and executed when a partner nation called in the direst of times,” said Lt Col Matt Stewart, 435th CRS commander. “I am beyond blessed to be a part of the 435th CRS family.” 

The 435th CRSS won the Expeditionary Operations Unit of the Year Award. This award celebrates the CRSS’s support operations ranging from contracting, intelligence, medical, and more. The 435th CRSS provided this support at the primary Aerial Port of Debarkation for U.S. and international aid to Ukraine. Additionally, the squadron’s intelligence team won the HAF Operations Support Squadron ISR unit of the year; Tech Sgt Derek Botelho won the 2022 USAFE-AFAFRICA Contracting Ninja Award; and Tech Sgt Nathan Dillow won the 2022 USAFE-AFAFRICA Aerospace Medicine Non-Commissioned Officer of The Year award, all as a result of their work in providing support to Ukraine.  

“Our squadron is a team of highly skilled experts that train hard year-round to fill crucial roles in the open-the-airbase mission,” said Lt Col James Pearce, 435th CRSS commander. “In 2022, particularly the deployment to Poland and establishment of an aerial port of debarkation for aid to Ukraine gave our Airmen the opportunity to execute the mission they train for every day. These awards are validation of their dedication, skill, and successful execution of a mission that enabled Ukraine to thwart Russian aggression and stay in the fight.” 

Master Sgt. Blake Fagan, 435th CRS operations superintendent, won the Senior Non-commissioned Officer Expeditionary Operations Performer of the Year Award. Fagan led 22 teams in executing missions across 18 operations, one presidentially directed mission, and an emergency tasking in response to the crisis in Ukraine. Additionally, he planned and coordinated two mobility exercises ensuring the readiness of $1.5 million worth of equipment and 96 personnel to support the USAFE’s only “Open the Airbase” capability.  Finally, as the lead of Airfield Operations during an MQ-9 rapid refuel exercise he ensured the success of the team setting the Air Force’s quick turn maintenance record. 

“It has been an honor to serve with such a dynamic and diverse group of individuals who aspire to improve how we support contingency operations around the world,” said Fagan. “I never imagined that I would have had the opportunity of making the impacts we have while working together in the 435th CRS. They are my family” 

“2022 was indeed a stellar year for the 435th CRG, but the group continues to train and prepare for the next operation,” said Col Pat Rayner, 435th CRG commander. “MCA [multiple capable airmen] and ACE [Agile Combat Employment] are buzz words in today’s Air Force, but to the men and women of the 435th CRG, it’s an everyday mindset. Their professionalism and attitude enable mission success in austere and challenging environments, whether that’s in Poland or Sudan. They are the prototype for MCA and ACE, and they deserve all the accolades.”