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Reservists honored for rescue effort

Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. -- More than forty members of the 943rd Rescue Group here were honored for their service during rescue efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by military leaders and public officials during a ceremony Sept. 10.

Members of the 305th and 306th Rescue Squadrons, 943rd Maintenance Squadron and other support units were honored.

Tucson Mayor Robert Walkup was the keynote speaker at the event. His speech centered around his perspective of last year's events.

"I didn't have to make the call to this unit. By the time I heard we may need to send our men and women, they were already preparing to deploy. In the midst of this terrible tragedy were our brave Airmen, ready to help," said Mayor Walkup.

Colonel Robert Dunn, 943rd Rescue Group commander and co-presenter at the ceremony, spoke briefly to the assembled group about his personal perspective of last year's missions.

"I know how hard these men and women worked because I was there with them. Just returning from Afghanistan, they immediately prepared to leave for Louisiana and then Mississippi. I didn't hear any complaining. It's in our blood," he said.

Chief Master Sgt. Craig Bergman, chief of the 943rd Maintenance Squadron and one of the recipients of the Humanitarian Service Medal, said this was just another example of Reserve readiness.

"This is an Air Force Reserve of volunteers. We knew it would be long days and nights and we knew it wouldn't be easy. But we had so many Reservists wanting to help that we had to turn some away. Once we were there it was impossible to tell who was active-duty, guard or reserve. We were one force," said Chief Bergman.

Chief Bergman also said he was touched to see those who served during last year's rescue efforts recognized publicly.

Other guests included a representative from Senator Jon Kyl's office, Congressman Raul Grijalva and Karen Halstead, President of the Tucson chapter of the Air Force Association.

Several military leaders were also present to honor the Airmen including Col. Kent Laughbaum, 355th Wing commander, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Col. Joseph Trippy, 920th Rescue Wing deputy commander, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. Colonels Trippy and Dunn were both presenters at the ceremony.