News: Bronze Star Awarded to MAWTS-1 Pilot
Story by Lance Cpl. Uriel Avendano
YUMA, Ariz. - Humility and heroism met at Memorial Hall, building 406, July 1, in the form of Bronze Star awarded to recipient Maj. Eric L. Geyer, with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.
Before a crowd of friends, family, and fellow service members, Geyer was awarded the nation’s fifth highest combat decoration by Lt. Col. Todd Miller, the acting MAWTS-1 commanding officer.
Although the Florida-native never planned on being a pilot, Geyer was always intent on being a Marine. Throughout high school, the Marine Corps was the service Geyer found himself most attracted to.
“I was always just drawn to the Marine Corps and what it, ‘being a Marine’, meant,” said Geyer, who has been on active duty for more than a decade.
From November of 2008 through June 2009, Geyer deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a forward air controller with Force Reconnaissance Platoon, 3rd battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. During that deployment, Geyer went above and beyond the call of duty and took to the role as a leader in the face of the enemy.
Part of Geyer’s citation reads:
“On 3 January 2009, Captain Geyer infiltrated 3 kilometers of enemy Improvised Explosive Device laden minefields to establish an observation post within 100 meters of the enemy’s forward lines. The next afternoon, his position was attacked from multiple machine gun bunkers, and received multiple mortar rounds impacting meters from him. From an exposed position, while lying next to an Improvised Explosive Device, he coordinated and executed attacks from fixed and rotary wing aircraft, medium and heavy mortars, and high mobility artillery rocket systems.”
However, Geyer was the first to remind everyone in attendance of what the award should serve as a reminder of – the young Marine. To him, the recognition should bring to mind those who are not often recognized in front of audiences.
“As a MAWTS-1 instructor, it will be a reminder to do everything possible to help provide the best training possible to our weapons and tactics instructors [WTI Course],” said Geyer. “I saw, first hand, the difference between aviation communities that embraced MAWTS-1 and the WTI program and those that didn't. Squadrons with a heavy WTI influence, most notably the USMC Cobra community, understood what it meant to be a supporting asset and went above and beyond to support the [Marine Air Ground Task Force] commander's intent.”
During the ceremony, Geyer’s humble perspective on awards resounded with clear sincerity. Rather than having it represent an accomplishment from his past, Geyer would rather have his award be a note in everyone’s mind to appreciate the hard work of the junior Marines that make up the majority of the Corps.
“Awards are a powerful tool. Not just ribbons and medals, but all types of awards,” said Geyer. “I challenge leaders - at all levels - to focus less on what means and methods we need to implement to punish Marines when they do something wrong. Instead, we need to focus on awarding the Marines who are doing things right. If we do this, everything else will fall into place.”