Airmen to receive the 2013 Earl T. Ricks Award

Crew members, slated to receive the 2013 Earl T. Ricks award pose in front of a C-5 Galaxy April 19, 2013. During an overseas mission the aircraft struck multiple birds during takeoff. Two engines were damaged but the crew manged to return the aircraft safely to the airfield.

Crew members, slated to receive the 2013 Earl T. Ricks award pose in front of a C-5 Galaxy April 19, 2013. During an overseas mission the aircraft struck multiple birds during takeoff. Two engines were damaged but the crew manged to return the aircraft safely to the airfield.

Martinsburg, W.Va. -- Lt. Col. Jonathan Goldstein, Capt. Ryan Hawk, 1st Lt. Samuel Harrison, Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Nicholson, Master Sgt. Michael Kalbfleisch, Master Sgt. Devin Paskewich, Tech. Sgt. Nicholas McFadden, Staff Sgt. Chad Witmer, Staff Sgt. Jordan Soltis and Senior Airman Jeremy Barr will receive one of the Air National Guard's most prestigious awards for their actions during an overseas incident on April 19 involving their C-5 Galaxy aircraft.
According to Master Sgt. Micheal Kalbfleisch, a 167th flight engineer who was part of the Reach 716 crew, the Airmen's quick thinking and exemplary teamwork allowed them to return safely to base after their aircraft suffered multiple bird strikes during takeoff that severely damaged two of their engines.
The Airmen were able to assess the situation while airborne, safely land and evacuate the aircraft without further issue.
"The biggest thing was that we worked as a team, we just instinctively knew what the others were going to do," Kalbfleisch said. "That's where being in the Guard helped. Rather than in the Active Duty where the team is kind of thrown together and the crew may be from different places, we all know each other and work together all the time."
Kalbfleisch said the training provided at the wing and through off-site sessions really prepare crews for any situation.
"Both the unit and other training really prepare you for these types of emergencies," he said. "In fact, there is a simulation training scenario that we do once a year where you lose two of your engines and have to handle the situation."
Adding: "It basically prepares you for the exact situation we had."
According to Kalbfleisch, being recognized with such a prestigious award and representing the wing is a great feeling.
"It was a real good feeling when we heard about the award," he said. "It was a little surprising. I didn't even know (we were) being considered for an award."
Adding: "It's very exciting to represent the wing and the entire guard community at this high of a level."
Col. Shaun Perkowski, the wing's vice commander, said the unit is proud of the Airmen and how they handled themselves under extreme duress.
"Col. Nye and I couldn't be more proud of our crew and their absolutely professional handling of this grave emergency," Perkowski said. "The way they worked together to safely land their crippled airplane was simply outstanding."
Adding: "It took great technical skill and knowledge, awesome leadership and a crew working together at their best."
"This award is timely recognition of some of the 167th's best," Perkowski noted.
The award will be presented at the 2013 Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition being held Sept. 16 through Sept. 18, at the Gaylord National Hotel and Conference Center, National Harbor, MD.