WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii – A UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, was presented with the 2012 Army Aviation Association of America Henry Q. Dunn Crew Chief of the Year Award on Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, March 25.
Sergeant Zachary Rice, C/2-25 AVN, 25th CAB, originally from Grass Valley, Calif. was presented the award by Command Sgt. Maj. James Thomson, Command Sergeant Major of the Army Aviation Center of Excellence.
Rice received the award for his actions during a recent deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 12-13.
“It is a great feeling to be recognized by my command and peers,” said Rice.
As the company’s flight instructor, Rice assisted with the readiness level progression, continuation training, and annual and semi-annual evaluations for 30 non-rated crew members. His actions as a flight instructor contributed to more than 7,500 combat flight hours in at least 1,500 missions in support of Regional Command – South and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Rice, who has flown more than 550 combat flight hours in at least 110 combat missions, was selected ahead of more than 2,500 crew chiefs and flight engineers from across the Army.
“Rice goes above and beyond in every category,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ray, the platoon sergeant for C/2-25 AVN, 25th CAB, and a native of Seven Springs, N.C. “He was requested by name for several high risk missions due to his ability to adapt to any situation, react quickly to changes, and his sound judgment.”
Rice’s capabilities as a UH-60 crew chief were tested on more than one occasion.
As two UH-60s were taking off after inserting soldiers to exploit the location of a high-level Taliban commander, the ground force was quickly pinned down by enemy fire. As an attack weapons team engaged the enemy, Rice’s UH-60 noticed two people on a motorcycle heading towards the ground force.
As Rice’s Black Hawk moved to intercept the vehicle, the second individual unveiled an AK-47 and began to fire at the aircraft. Rice did not hesitate and immediately began returning fire.He disabled the motorcycle and one of the combatants.
The second combatant began to fire at the second UH-60 with a PKM machine gun. Without hesitation, Rice began to provide security for the other aircraft and subdued the hostile force. His actions resulted in the safety of his crew, the second aircraft’s crew, both aircraft, and the ground force.
“Every mission you do is different,” Rice stated. “I am glad I can help soldiers who are in difficult places to complete the mission safely so we all can return home.”