Marines Garner Top Prize In Aircraft Maintenance
Combat Service Support
Battalion 10, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, recently was
announced as the 2004 Phoenix Award winner during the 2004 DoD
Maintenance Symposium and Exhibition in Houston.
Bradley Berkson, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for
logistics and materiel readiness, announced the award, DoD's
highest for field-level maintenance. Dave Pauling, assistant deputy
undersecretary for maintenance policy, programs and resources,
presented the battalion with the 20th annual award, Chuck Field,
administrator of the award program said.
The Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards program requires the
submission of a nomination package covering the performance of a
unit for the preceding fiscal year. Each of the four services is
allowed to submit two nominations in each of the small-, medium-
and large-unit categories, for a combined total of 24
For this year's awards, 23 nomination packages were received.
Joint commands are also eligible to submit nominations. However,
Field said, the joint-command category is a new addition and had no
submissions this year.
From the total number of submissions, a selection board of six
raters chooses six units, two in each category. The Phoenix Award
winner is then chosen from those final six units. The remaining
five are presented Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards in
recognition of outstanding achievement in field-level military
equipment and weapon system maintenance.
The Marine battalion, an entry in the medium category, beat out
five other units to claim top honors, said Field, who is a senior
policy analyst for the Office of the Assistant Deputy
Undersecretary of Defense for Maintenance Policy, Programs and
The awards-banquet brochure mentioned a few of the battalion's
accomplishments, Field said. CSSB 10 is credited with transitioning
from maintenance support of tenant units at Twentynine Palms (CA),
to direct combat service support to all 1st Marine Division units
in the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force combat zone. That included
"To pick out one thing that (CSSB 10) did, I don't think you
could do that," Field said.
While the battalion was thrilled with the award, their
excitement was somewhat tarnished, its former commanding officer
Marine Lt. Col. Robert Winkle said.
Lance Cpl. Chad Bales, a logistical vehicle systems operator,
was killed in a vehicle accident April 3, just southwest of the
Tigris River in Iraq, Winkle said. Winkle, now with the Georgia
Tech and Morehouse College ROTC programs, said dedicating the
Phoenix Award trophy to Bales just seemed the right thing to do as
"We just wanted to recognize his sacrifice," he said. "He was
the only Marine we didn't bring back. It was the only thing (Bales'
mother) asked, was that Chad not be forgotten."
CSS Battalion 10 deployed at the end of January and officially
returned from Iraq around the first of June, Winkle said.
The other five winners of the Secretary of Defense Maintenance
Awards for 2004 are:
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462, Marine Corps Air Station
509th Munitions Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base
3rd Military Intelligence Battalion (Aerial Exploitation), Camp
Humphreys, US Army, Republic of Korea
The USS Abraham Lincoln, US Navy
27th Maintenance Group, Cannon Air Force Base