- By Myra Saxon 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The 788th Civil Engineer Squadron was awarded the Senior Master Sgt. Gerald J. Stryzak Award for best civil engineer explosive ordnance disposal flight of the year for 2017 at the Air Force Materiel Command level.
This annual award recognizes the EOD flight as AFMC’s best during 2017 through the unit’s varied and critical mission accomplishments. According to the EOD Warrior Foundation, the award is named in honor of Senior Master Sgt. Gerald J. Stryzak, an EOD technician who died in an aircraft crash while participating in a tactical rapid response exercise in Egypt.
“It speaks to the dedication and professionalism of our EOD flight to win this award for the second time in three years,” said Maj Russell Gheesling, commander of the 788th CES. “Within AFMC, we compete against EOD flights at bases with massive range complexes and with major aircraft and weapons test programs.
“While we don’t have the number of on-base responses other flights do, our support to local law enforcement authorities and across a five-state region allows the flight to demonstrate their excellence throughout the year,” Gheesling said.
During 2017, 788th CES EOD responded to 13 emergency responses, supporting civil authorities, including local law enforcement. The team spent 222 man-hours to safely dispose of 21 unexploded ordnances. EOD’s efforts protected a 195,000-square-mile area worth more than $8 million, according to the nomination.
“Our unit’s success over the past year is a direct result of the dedication of every technician on the team,” said Master Sgt. Brandon Guingrich, EOD training and quality assurance section chief with the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron. “Everyone works and trains together to ensure that we can handle any conventional, improvised, nuclear, or weapons of mass destruction threat at a moment’s notice.”
Also, the team headed a high-level security program in support of 25 U.S. Secret Service missions. They collaborated with 33 teams to search 2,000 vehicles and sweep a 12-million-square-foot area, including facilities. EOD’s efforts ensured the safety of the U.S. president, vice president and the United Nations General Assembly.
Additionally, the unit excelled at an ordnance evaluation that took place at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Their performance consisted of certifying the dormancy of 3,900 hazardous items, preserved historical artifacts via their performance with the added benefit of protecting 1.7 million annual visitors.
Finally, the team recovered an Air Force Thunderbird and AFR A-10 in Michigan from two aircraft mishaps. They ensured the aircrafts weapon systems were safe [not engaged or damaged] and mitigated seven explosive hazards, which averted two lives being lost, as well as securing the aircraft, which cost $31 million.
The team will go on to compete at the Air Force level.