News: Aviator of the Year award to 3rd MAW Marine
Story by Lance Cpl. Raquel Barraza
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – With loud blasts and flames engulfing the flight line, Maj. Robert Weingart, a pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 and a Franklin, Conn., native, jumped in his AH-1W Cobra and took flight to protect his fellow Marines on the ground.
On Sep. 14, 2012, Camp Bastion, Afghanistan was attacked by insurgents on the east side near the Marine hangars.
During the firefight, Weingart tried to eliminate the insurgents from the air but smoke caused limited visibility, and he needed a way to be sure he was getting the “bad guys.”
“I asked if (the Marines on the ground) could concentrate their automatic weapons’ fire on the point of origin, so I could (identify) it and get maneuvered to where we could engage it for them,” said Weingart.
Down on the flight line, Marines from throughout the squadron ran to aircraft to retrieve ammunition and weapons to show Weingart where the insurgents were attacking from.
“They saw where the friendly vehicle was engaging at the (enemy), and then they started opening up with the (M240 machine gun) from the vicinity of our compound,” said Weingart. “The combination of seeing the rounds from the vehicles and seeing our Marines from the North East that gave us a pretty good pin point location of where the bad guys were.”
Weingart knew that he had to be sure before he could take any shots.
“It’s one thing to shoot the bad guys and miss; another thing entirely to shoot (at) the bad guys, miss and hit the (Marines) you’re trying to help,” said Weingart. “That’s the absolute worst outcome.”
For his brave actions on that day and his work as the aircraft maintenance officer with HMLA-469, Weingart was awarded the Alfred A. Cunningham aviator of the year award.
This award represents an aviator and all their actions throughout the year, explained Maj. Gen. Steven Busby, the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft wing.
Even with this award being a great achievement to most, Weingart sees his actions as anything but heroic.
“He is probably one of the most humble individuals you’re ever going to meet but he is a dynamic leader of Marines,” said Busby.
Weingart received his award at the Marine Corps Aviation Association dinner to honor 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing award nominees and winners at the officers’ club aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., April 18.
The leadership Weingart displayed shows dedication to his fellow warriors and is a leader Marines can epitomize.