News: MACS-4 dually recognized with prestigious awards
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
IWAKUNI, Japan - Marine Air Control Squadron 4 Detachment Bravo received the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s Edward S. Fris Award for Marine Air Command and Control Squadron of the Year to recognize their contributions and success as an air control squadron.
The Edward S. Fris Award honors Lt. Gen. Edward S. Fris, a radar officer during WWII and Naval aviator who helped pioneer the development of Marine Corps Aviation Command and Control. All MACS and Marine Air Support Squadrons are eligible to receive the award.
The award is highly coveted amongst air control squadrons as it a testament to the dedication, commitment and efficiency of that squadron's capabilities.
“It’s a prestigious award for any unit to get,” said Master Sgt. Thomas E. Kopp, MACS-4 Detachment Bravo staff non-commissioned officer in charge. “It shows who we are and what we do, but also it’s important to the Marines because it shows their hard work and dedication pays off.”
The award also serves as justification for those Marines who are constantly deploying to train or aid in relief efforts such as Operation Tomadachi.
“We won the Command and Control Squadron of the Year for the simple reason of what we’ve done here in the Pacific Theater,” said Kopp. MACS-4 has an extensive list of deployments and training opportunities, which helped them achieve the award, such as Cobra Gold, Lava Viper and Geiger Fury.
The capabilities of MACS-4 also serve as a testament to how effective the squadron is whenever it is called upon and how they not only affect the air station, but the Marine Corps as a whole.
“MACS-4 probably has the highest operation tempo of any MACS squadron in the Marine Corps because the other units are doing [Operation Enduring Freedom],” said Kopp. “They’re doing OEF for six months and then they’re home for six months to a year. My guys pretty much deploy from the first of the year to November, I’m sending people everywhere all the time.”
This is the squadron’s third time winning the award, after winning in 1994 and 2002, since the award’s creation in 1985.
The need to continually strive to do better is one expectation presented with such a prestigious award.
Though this award focuses primarily on the efforts of the entire squadron, it could not be accomplished without the Marines from bottom to top. This is evident when the squadron is awarded both the Edward S. Fris Award and an individual Marine within the squadron is recognized for his efforts, which contribute to that.
Staff Sgt. Raul A. De Santiago, a MACS-4 air traffic controller, was able to add to MACS- 4 resume with the Marine Air Traffic Control Association Air Traffic controller of the Year awarded.
“What he’s done to get the award has contributed to the success of the squadron up through that,” said Kopp. “It’s an individual award but he’s part of the squadron.”
De Santiago offers humility when discussing the award as he feels he would not be in his position if not for the Marines under his charge.
“I feel it’s undeserving but an honor,” said De Santiago. “I’m very appreciative of even being considered for the award. I wouldn’t be here if not for them.”
Knowing there is a unit who supports him and has enabled him to receive an award is reflective of how supportive they are as a squadron.
“It’s always nice to be recognized by your chain of command by just doing what you know what the mission is and see great things from what you and you Marines are doing,” said De Santiago.