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Tinker Airman coined for going above and beyond

Gen. David Hicks, 1st Air Force vice commander and deputy Joint Forces Air Component commander for U.S. Northern Command, coins Senior Airman Benjamin Schwartz, a crew chief with the 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, for stepping up to provide last-minute support to a July 4 mission. (Courtesy photo)

Gen. David Hicks, 1st Air Force vice commander and deputy Joint Forces Air Component commander for U.S. Northern Command, coins Senior Airman Benjamin Schwartz, a crew chief with the 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, for stepping up to provide last-minute support to a July 4 mission. (Courtesy photo)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A Tinker Airman was recently honored for his work over the Independence Day weekend.

Senior Airman Benjamin Schwartz, a crew chief with the 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, received a coin on Sept. 29 from Gen. David Hicks, 1st Air Force vice commander and deputy Joint Forces Air Component commander for U.S. Northern Command.

With last-minute notice, Airman Schwartz had to cancel his personal plans and instead fly with two Airborne Warning and Control System crews to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., to track and intercept Russian bombers flying near the coast of California.

"We had a great team go on the maintenance side," Airman Schwartz said. "Everyone made things go smoothly."

In the July 4 mission, U.S. military aircraft intercepted two Russian TU-85 Bear bombers that were near the southern coast of Alaska. F-22s took off to identify, track and follow them until they turned around. At the same time off the coast of California, F-15s tracked two other Russian TU-95s spotted near the coast of San Francisco.
"It's a great feeling to see all the news about how we protected the American people here at home on U.S. soil," Airman Schwartz said.

Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Leemon Sr., superintendent with the 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said Airman Schwartz stepped up and provided outstanding maintenance to ensure both aircraft departed each and every day to support this objective.

"Senior Airman Schwartz's 'can do' attitude was infectious and his superior maintenance abilities landed him recognition and coining by the general," said the chief.

Maj. Christian Backhaus, 552nd AMXS commander, said the squadron is proud to have Airman Schwartz on the team.

"He was absolutely the right person for this mission. His positive attitude and his exceptional maintenance expertise ensured this very important mission was successful," the major said.