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Wheeler Soldier’s Bravery Leads To NCO Of The Year Award

BY SGT. DANIEL SCHROEDER

25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

A Wheeler Army Airfield flight medic has been named Army Aviation Association of America Rodney J.T. Yano Noncom-missioned Officer of the Year.

Sgt. First Class Armando Ocon was presented with the award April 11 at the 2013 AAAA annual Professional Forum in Fort Worth, Texas.

“I was shocked when I found out I was chosen to receive the award,” admitted Ocon.

During 2012, he served as a senior flight medic, company standardization instructor, and platoon sergeant for “Lightning DUSTOFF” in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

On more than one occasion, Ocon selflessly risked his own safety to save troops on the battlefield.

On May 8, 2012, Ocon’s aircraft was sent to evacuate an Afghan interpreter who was injured by an improvised explosive device. Upon arrival, Ocon left the aircraft and ran approximately 200 meters through an uncleared minefield to save his patient.

Three weeks later, he again proved his bravery when his crew evacuated soldiers under enemy fire. Ocon assisted with loading the wounded soldiers. After taking off safely, he began treating the patients, who included a military police dog handler.

The working dog, thinking he was hurting his handler, bit Ocon on his upper right arm. Ocon managed to restrain the dog so he could continue to administer care to its handler.

“We have a demanding but rewarding job,” Ocon said. “You do not do this job for medals. You do this job because you want to. You feel so humble about your job when someone you saved comes up and thanks you.”

While still performing his duties as a flight medic, Ocon served as the platoon sergeant with responsibility for maintaining and caring for three UH-60 Black Hawk MEDEVAC helicopters, 20 soldiers, and more than $18 million of mission-essential equipment.

“Sgt. 1st Class Ocon embodies the NCO Creed,” said Capt. Margaret Larson, executive officer, C/3-25 AVN. “He is always willing to mentor soldiers and leaders. He does the same tasks he asks of his soldiers.”

In addition to his platoon sergeant duties, he was appointed the company’s standardization instructor.

His previous combat experience and medical knowledge aided in training all non-rated crewmembers.

“All his soldiers appreciate all he’s done for us this last year and a half,” said Staff Sgt. Jose Pantoja, flight medic.

“He serves as an outstanding role model for us all.”

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