Whiteman Airman receives 2016 JINSA Grateful Nation Award

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Danielle Quilla
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Every year since 2003, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) Grateful Nation Award is presented to six members, one from each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and the U.S. Special Operations Command, who are recognized for having distinguished themselves through superior conduct in the war on terrorism.

The Air Force recipient for the 2016 Grateful Nation (JINSA) Award is Senior Master Sgt. Michael Becker, the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) flight chief assigned to the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

“This outstanding senior non-commissioned officer sets the standard which all Airmen should emulate,” stated Maj. Gen. Richard M. Clark, the Eighth Air Force commander. “His outstanding service in defense of our nation since the terror attacks on 9/11 is an inspiration to all and worthy of recognition with this prestigious award.”

In his four combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan within a five-year time span since 2005, Becker saved numerous lives by accomplishing more than 700 combat missions.

On Sept. 27, 2007, Becker and his team were awarded the Army Commendation Medal and the Air Force Combat Medal for saving two soldiers struck by a roadside bomb. The incident occurred in 2005 just outside of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Summerall, Iraq.

“A suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated on the Army truck immediately behind our EOD vehicle, destroying it and setting it on fire,” said Becker. “Myself and two other Air Force EOD technicians exited our vehicle and ran to the struck Army truck. We rendered immediate first aid to stabilize the soldiers and cross loaded them into our vehicle for rapid transport back to the FOB for higher level medical treatment.”

Their quick actions led to one of the soldiers eventually returning to combat.

In addition to this event, Becker executed Air Force EOD’s first amphibious Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (armored vehicle) assault to recover and repatriate soldiers’ remains, and devoted himself to modernizing the force. He was part of designing new, state-of-the-art robotics systems, such as a remote robot retrieval system, which kept Airmen safe inside assault vehicles.

On Nov. 29, 2016, Becker and his family will travel to the District of Columbia to be presented the 2016 Grateful Nation Award at the JINSA’s 34th Annual Awards Dinner.