CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq – A National Guard soldier with the 162nd Area Medical Support Company based out of Camp Bullis, Texas, received an outstanding civilian award from a privately contracted fire and emergency services company on Contingency Operating Base Basra.
Sallyport Global Holdings firefighters on COB Basra awarded 1st Lt. Earl Yevak of Hampton, Va., with the COB Basra Fire Warden award in front of the Medical Troop Facility on post in recognition for his outstanding service and commitment to the fire department.
Yevak, a camp manager for Bradey Lines, said he deserved the award no more than any of the soldiers in his unit.
“Everything I was doing was just what we are supposed to do as camp managers,” Yevak said humbly, “because it is just a part of my job.”
“Those guys are really hard workers,” Yevak said as his voice began to crack and eyes fill with tears. “They are always very proactive in getting stuff done. They really put all the work into it. So I didn’t feel that it was something that was for me. I was just the face of the mayor’s cell.”
Justin Relkin, a Sallyport fire inspector of Phoenix, recalled the first time he met Yevak. Relkin said Yevak displayed qualities that made him stand out among his peers.
“He asked so many questions about the fire warden program,” said Relkin, a prior service Air Force member.
As the fire warden for his camp, Yevak was always prompt and diligent with his work, Relkin said.
“He has been on time with all of his USF-I checklists and his monthly inspections,” Relkin said, mentioning a few of Yevak’s many duties.
Relkin described Yevak as being very “professional”, “honest”, and “down to earth.”
“He really took it personal with his troops in keeping them safe,” Relkin added. “I could tell that all his troops could depend on him if they were looking for somebody to help lead the way.”
Clifton Hill of Dallas, Texas, another fire inspector on the COB, said the thing that made Yevak stand out was his initiative to transform the “marshmallow building”, a name some soldiers knew for a rundown, abandoned facility, into a new living area for the 297th ASMC, the unit that would replace Yevak’s unit.
“For life safety issues, Yevak went above and beyond so that everything was good for his soldiers,” Hill said.
This was the second time the fire department gave this award in a four-year span, said Richard Galtieri, assistant chief of operations for fire and emergency services on COB Basra.
“It sounds like Yevak was very involved and put his heart into [his work],” Galtieri said.
Yevak said he plans on returning home to do social work for the active-duty military. He will miss the many Iraqi and Ugandan friends he has made during this deployment.
“I have learned a lot,” Yevak said about this deployment. “I will definitely take these experiences with me… and you know anything I do in the future, it will definitely help me.”