Staff Sgt. Juan Padilla (right) with the communications section of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Command Element supervises the release of a lofted communications balloon while Sgt. Lester Ward uses a radio on the flight deck of USS Kearsarge, May 1. The lofted communications system can extend the range of Marine Corps radio transmissions by hundreds of miles. Padilla and Capt. Glen Berdela, also with 26th MEU, were named Copernicus Award recipients this year for aggressively pursuing deployed information access and establishing new benchmarks for excellence in the field.