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62 AMXS Airman earns Bronze Star Medal

Senior Master Sgt. Travis J. Calmez stands in front of a MD-530 helicopter on Forward Operating Base Oqab, Kabul, Afghanistan May 10, 2018.

Senior Master Sgt. Travis J. Calmez stands in front of a MD-530 helicopter on Forward Operating Base Oqab, Kabul, Afghanistan May 10, 2018. This was the type of helicopter that Calmez helped load onto C-130 Hercules aircraft while in hostile territory with zero casualties. (Courtesy photo)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --

Senior Master Sgt. Travis J. Calmez, 62nd Airlift Maintenance Squadron (62 AMXS) superintendent, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, was presented a Bronze Star Medal, October 12 which he earned for his actions while deployed to Forward Operating Base Oqab, Kabul, Afghanistan. 

The award was presented by Lt. Col. Jacob P. Sullivan, 62 AMXS commander, at his commander’s call in recognition of Calmez’ distinguished accomplishments and meritorious achievement. While deployed Calmez was the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing (438 AEW) maintenance and logistics superintendent, and fixed wing branch, train, advise and assist command-air (TAAC-Air) chief, in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel from June 20, 2017 to June 1, 2018.

 “I’m proud of it,” said Calmez, “It is by far the pinnacle of my career.”

The Bronze Star Medal exemplifies Calmez’ hard work as an Airman and leader. It is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the United States military after Dec. 6, 1941, distinguished themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service.

 “His conduct, his willingness to serve, and his actions are certainly well-deserving of such a high honor and what a big deal this decoration is,” said Sullivan.

As part of the TAAC-Air, Calmez helped Afghan partners develop a professional, capable, and sustainable Air Force while working with coalition partners from the United States, Greece, Czech Republic, Turkey and Denmark.

He was the only enlisted member advising the Afghan Air Force (AAF) on fixed wing, helicopter fleet, and phase maintenance for the airlift fleet of Afghanistan. 

“Advisement at this level went from AAF maintenance and logistics, to the Kabul commander, through their ministry of defense to essentially the presidential staff of Afghanistan,” said Calmez.

Among several issues identified and fixed by Calmez, he advised Afghan leadership on approving efficiency of flying hour programs, re-aligning Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft flight hours and Mi-17 helicopter commitment rates with phase maintenance, and distributing low- and high-hour aircraft between air bases, thereby generating an additional 900 C-208 flight hours and 1,000 Mi-17 blade hours.

Under his mentorship, a team disassembled battle-damaged MD-530 helicopters and loaded them onto C-130 Hercules aircraft while in hostile territory with zero casualties, recovering two aircraft with no coalition support for the first time.

While exposed to significant danger from rocket attacks, insider threats, and direct engagements, Calmez conducted 118 outside-the-wire train, advise and assist missions with Afghan Air Force headquarters maintenance leadership on 120 aircraft worth over $1 billion across Afghanistan.

Calmez identified inadequate maintenance inspections in the Shindand Air Wing’s C-208 fleet. He established a baseline maintenance plan and moved aircraft to specific locations within Afghanistan for contractor logistic support, restoring the $14 million fleet, and recertifying nine AAF maintainers on annual inspections.

Calmez said he would not have done as well without the experience he gained from his two prior year-long deployments.

“Airmen rise to the challenges, and that’s what he did,” said Sullivan before presenting the award. “I firmly believe that his conduct reflects what’s best in all of us that wear the uniform and serve our country.”