News: St. Louis native named best pilot in the Pacific Air Forces
Story by Airman 1st Class Christopher Gross
Air Force Capt. Allen Morris Jr. said he dreamed of being a pilot since he was a child.
Today at 33, the St. Louis native is not only a pilot, but the best one in the Air Force's Pacific Air Forces Command.
Morris was notified Jan. 21 that he is the recipient of the 2010 Daedalian Exceptional Pilot Award at the PACAF level and will go on to compete at the Air Force level.
The Daedalian Award was established in 1998, and is presented annually to one Air Force pilot and one Navy pilot.
Nominees must have performed exceptional deeds to assure mission success, an extraordinary act of valor as an aviator, a display of courage or leadership in the air in support of air operations and flying safety factors.
Morris has more than 2,300 combined flight hours in the C-17, T-1 and the T-37 and is the weapons officer and weapons and tactics flight commander for the 517th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
"Two things I've wanted to do as a kid was either be an Air Force pilot or be a garbage man," chuckled Morris, "because you get to ride in the back of the truck, going 40 miles per hour around the neighborhood."
Morris joined the Air Force to continue more than 200 years of military tradition in his family.
After four years of Air Force ROTC, Morris graduated Cum Laude at St. Louis University and commissioned in May 2002.
Morris said he was stunned with the award recognition and "it's certainly an honor, not expected, I guess more than anything it shows when you bust your butt and work long hours somebody is watching."
One of the main reasons for his success is the unique situation he's in.
The 517th Airlift Squadron is home to the only active duty C-17 Globemaster III squadron in Alaska and is only one of two active duty squadrons in PACAF.
He said there is never a dull moment with conducting aircrew training and putting together training scenarios for troops preparing to deploy and fly in support of Operations Enduring Freedom or New Dawn.
His squadron commander seemed to feel the same way, "at the unit level he is by far the busiest C-17 weapons officer in the Air Force," said Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Weeks, 517th Airlift Squadron commander.
"This guy will put in 150 percent, no matter what task you give him," Weeks said. "He's a model officer, he is the best weapons officer I've ever ran into and he makes a difference."
According to Weeks, Morris's main focus is to teach C-17 tactical how to safely employ the aircraft tactically no matter what the threat factor.
Not only is this a great honor for Morris but for the squadron as well because this validates what they do here in the arctic on a daily basis, Weeks said.
As for Morris, he will be taking everything he has learned from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and will be leaving in April to instruct at the weapons school at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.