News: Two Oregon airmen receive Bronze Star medals
Story by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel
PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. - In a dual ceremony during the November unit training assembly, the 142nd Fighter Wing presented Bronze Star Medals to honor two airmen with Pacific Northwest roots. Senior Master Sgt. Brian Wade, 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron and Maj. Casey Dierickx, 142nd Fighter Wing executive officer, were both awarded the nation's fourth highest medal before their family, friends and peers, Nov. 3, 2013 at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore.
"What a great privilege it is for us to be able to honor the service and professionalism of these two warriors," said Col. Richard Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing commander.
The awards were originally to be presented a month early, but due to the recent government shutdown they were postponed, thus allowing 142nd Fighter Wing members the opportunity to witness the event. On hand to officially present the medals was Maj. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Oregon adjutant general.
Wedan spent time detailing both airmen's back story and particular aspects in their military history, and how they both became members of the 142nd Fighter Wing.
Wedan joked that "Brian saw the error in his ways, eventually joining the active duty Air Force after he initially enlisted in the California Army National Guard."
Wade became a member of the 142nd Fighter Wing explosive ordnance disposal specialist in 2000, after serving in the Washington Army National Guard.
"It was on his second deployment, during his recent trip to Afghanistan, Brian really hit it out of the park," said Wedan.
In reading part of the citation of the medal, Chief Master Sergeant John McIlvain said, "Under his leadership his team conducted over 120 combat missions is support of the 455th Air Expeditionary Force Wing's Flight Operations, successfully render safe or destroying 9,000 pounds of enemy unexploded ordinance from the joint area of operations."
In chronicling Dierickx award, Wedan described his time in the Air Force in Europe and later his attempt to become a pro surfer in Hawaii after he left active duty.
"Casey graduated from Oregon State University and began an active duty career, and after seven or eight years, he decided to get out and try his hand at professional surfing in Hawaii," said Wedan.
Missing the connection to the military, Maj. Dierickx soon joined the Hawaii Air National Guard in 2008 and a year later became a member of the 142nd Fighter Wing Logistical Readiness Squadron, Portland, Ore.
In reading part of the citation of the medal, Chief Master Sergeant John McIlvain said, "As the director of mobility for the combined Joint Operations Task Force, Afghanistan, Maj. Dierickx, led 31 Army, Air Force and local nationals in the non-stop support of seven geographically separated special operations forces air cells."
Wedan emphasized that these types of ceremonies don't happen every day.
I've never had this opportunity before in my career and I probably never will again before I retire, but this is a special award, the Bronze Star Medal, and I am thrilled to present it to these two Airmen," he said.