McConnell warriors receive Meritorious Service Medals

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Staff Sgt. Josh Brown and Senior Airman Gary Weakland, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, received Meritorious Service Medals for time served as lead vehicle commander with the 424 Medium Truck Detachment at Camp Arifjan Air Base, Kuwait.

"You are pretty much the navigator, the 'eyes and ears' for the convoy commander," said Sergeant Brown. "Wherever you went, the whole convoy behind you followed; they did what you did. If you stopped; they stopped. If you went; they went."

"We held, in my own opinion, one of the most critical positions besides the convoy commander and the assistant convoy commander," said Airman Weakland. "It's our job to maintain speed. We are the ones that make sure the route is safe for the convoy to follow."

"Some people think of the lead vehicle as being a little more dangerous, but basically if something is going to happen, it's going to happen to that truck, because most road side bombs are trigger by trucks," said Airman Weakland

"We traveled one mile ahead of the convoy, just in case something happened, we had time to slow down or just have it affect our truck and not the rest of the convoy," said Sergeant Brown.

If a route status changes to an unsafe condition while driving, the lead vehicle commander is responsible for finding a safe alternate route, he said.

"Navigating through downtown Baghdad isn't like driving down Kellogg," said Sergeant Brown.

Sergeant Brown and Airman Weakland consider themselves lucky this time around, because they did not come under fire. However, on previous deployments both have come under attack. Airman Weakland came under attack by improvised explosive devices. Sergeant Brown was engaged in small arms fire with insurgents.

"They're a lot of people doing an outstanding job over there, doing what we are doing," said Airman Weakland.

"Not everybody in the Air Force knows what we do, and we are still not getting recognized for what we do," Sergeant Brown said. "We go from bus drivers to gun truck security. Training is priority, because when you do come under attack, you don't want to sit and think of what to do, you want to react.

"In the heat of the moment, when IEDs start blowing up, instinctively people need to get back up on the weapon and started scanning the area, said Airman Weakland. "Take you training seriously, because that stuff will save your life. It's important, even if you're not under attack, just being able to get the mission done correctly."

A MSM is awarded to a person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who serves in a noncombatant area and distinguishes himself or herself by outstanding meritorious achievement or service.