News: Maintenance chief receives Bronze Star
Story by Senior Airman Katrina Brisbin
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. - Lt. Col. Francis S. "Gabby" Gabreski once said, "The wingman is absolutely indispensable. I look after the wingman. The wingman looks after me. ... We work together. We fight together. The wingman knows what his responsibilities are, and knows what mine are. Wars are not won by individuals. They're won by teams."
This statement rings true today in the actions produced by Team McConnell's own Chief Master Sgt. Mark Clegg, 22nd Maintenance Squadron superintendent.
Clegg was presented a Bronze Star Medal during a commander's call Aug. 16.
The citation read:
"Chief Master Sgt. Mark A. Clegg distinguished himself by meritorious achievement as superintendent, 376th Expeditionary Maintenance Group, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyz Republic, while engaged in ground operations against the enemy from Dec. 14, 2011, to Dec. 1, 2012."
Approximately 250 maintenance airmen silently watched as Clegg received his medal.
"Friday's presentation was very cool, humbling actually," said Clegg. "Though I'm sure many of those airmen didn't understand what was going on they needed to see it. They needed to see that chiefs aren't static figures, figures just heard about or talked about or seen everywhere except at work. They need to see that we work hard and that we don't ask them to do anything we're not willing to do ourselves."
Clegg managed the air expeditionary force and enabler rotations of approximately 650 personnel from 53 bases and encompassing 18 different Air Force specialty codes during his most recent deployment.
Because of his efforts, the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing generated more than 3,926 sorties and 14,120 combat flying hours, off-loading more than 222 million pounds of fuel to 16,400 coalition receivers.
This contributed to the execution of 63 named operations, including operations Eagle Hammer and Rock Legacy, which led to 134 enemy personnel being killed or detained.
He also assisted with the merger of U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps personnel into the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyz Republic.
"Chief Clegg had a knack for connecting with people all the way up and down the rank structure," said Col. Jed McCray, 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group commander, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. "He was a true team player, not only within the expeditionary maintenance group but across the wing and even with our teammates from the other services."
As the senior enlisted maintenance member for the 728th Air Mobility Squadron's operating location-alpha, his mentorship to 50 C-17 Globemaster III maintenance personnel resulted in the generation of 1,875 C-17 sorties, moving 146,000 passengers and 63 million pounds of cargo.
Clegg was dubbed the 376th AEW's winter operations expert during his time there.
Some of his exploits include working with Air Mobility Command and Air Force Central Command to carry out the arrival of a 21-man de-icer team and interest in their training and preparation led to the de-icing of 797 aircraft with no mission delays despite record winter weather.
"My time at Manas was very rewarding," said Clegg. "I stepped off the airplane to negative 19 degrees and snow. For a crew chief, that is home, shoveling snow in negative 34 degrees so your airmen can do their jobs. For a chief, that is time to pay back for all the Air Force has invested in you."
Despite being awarded the fourth-highest individual military award, Clegg remained humbled.
"I've been recognized graciously throughout my career and I wasn't expecting a medal for this deployment," said Clegg. "I learned a long time ago that a long, hard day's work followed by a head nod of 'see ya tomorrow' from someone you work with, trust enough to follow and are open enough to discuss what's holding you back, well, that is more than enough reward for me."