News: 3-25 AVN Flight Medic named AAAA NCO of the Year
Story by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii – A flight medic from Company C, 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, was named the Army Aviation Association of America Rodney J.T. Yano Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Sgt. 1st Class Armando Ocon, C/3-25 AVN, originally from Pittsburg, Calif., was presented with the award at the 2013 AAAA Annual Professional Forum in Fort Worth, Texas on April 11.
“I was shocked when I found out I was chosen to receive the award,” said Ocon.
During 2012, Ocon served as a senior flight medic, company standardization instructor, and platoon sergeant for “Lightning DUSTOFF” in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
On more than one occasion, Ocon selflessly risked his own safety to save Troops on the battlefield. In May 2012, Ocon and crew reacted to two different highly dangerous missions.
The first was May 8 when Ocon’s aircraft maneuvered to evacuate an Afghan interpreter who was suffering from an Improvised Explosive Device blast. Upon arrival, Ocon exited the aircraft and ran approximately 200 meters through an uncleared minefield to save his patient.
On May 30, 2012, Ocon proved his bravery again when his crew arrived to evacuate soldiers under enemy fire. Ocon jumped out of the aircraft and ran to assist with loading the wounded soldiers.
After taking off safely with all patients, Ocon began administering care to the patients which included a military police dog handler.
The working dog reacted to the thought of someone hurting his handler and bit Ocon on his upper right arm. Ocon managed to force the dog off and restrain him so he could continue to administer care.
“We have a demanding but rewarding job,” Ocon said. “You do not do this job for medals. You do this job because you want to. You feel so humble about your job when someone you saved comes up and thanks you.”
While still performing his duties as a flight medic, Ocon served as the platoon sergeant of the 4th Forward Support MEDEVAC Platoon. This placed the responsibility of maintaining and caring for three UH-60 Black Hawk MEDEVAC helicopters, 20 soldiers, and more than $18 million of mission-essential equipment.
“Sergeant 1st Class Ocon embodies the NCO Creed,” said Capt. Margaret Larson, executive officer, C/3-25 AVN, originally from Bristol, R.I. “He is always willing to mentor soldiers and leaders. He does the same tasks he asks of his soldiers.”
In addition to his duties as a platoon sergeant, Ocon was chosen to be the company’s standardization instructor. His previous combat experience and medical knowledge aided in training all non-rated crewmembers in the company.
“All his soldiers appreciate all he has done for us this last year and a half,” commented Staff Sgt. Jose Pantoja, flight medic with C/3-25 AVN, originally from Bridge Port, Texas. “He serves as an outstanding role model for us all.”