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Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Horton, 775th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, stands near the Senji Bridge in North Afghanistan,Konar Province where he cleared improvised explosive devices as part of his mission.
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Hill technical sergeant named AF Most Outstanding Airman

Posted 7/9/2009   Updated 7/10/2009 Email story   Print story


by Mary Lou Gorny
Hilltop Times editor

7/9/2009 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- A Hill Air Force Base technical sergeant is among those selected at the Air Force level as the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2009 from among 33 nominees. Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Horton, a 775th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance
Disposal technician, was considered for the honor after receiving distinction at the Air Force Materiel Command level as a non-commissioned officer. 

"Technical Sergeant Horton is a tremendous warrior and American, emblematic of every Airman wearing the uniform today. His contributions to this nation are extraordinary, yet he is so humble about his accomplishments," said Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Candler, command chief for the Ogden Air Logistics Center and the 75th Air Base Wing upon hearing of the selection. "It's the greatest honor one could have in serving alongside Technical Sergeant Horton and America's Airmen." 

Tech. Sgt. Horton, when first advised about his selection expressed some surprise. "I feel very honored," he said now upon his arrival back at Hill AFB. "I hope I can do the
Air Force and my career field proud and live up to everyone's expectations," he said. 

Horton was also selected to be among 20 Department of Defense National Heroes for
Independence Day and got to spend July 4th in Washington, D.C., and meet President
Barack Obama. Horton said he was initially invited to a Salute to the Military Event
at the nation's capital which was held over the course of a couple of days, including some 1,200 military personnel and their families. At the event he found out he had been selected as one of the 20 heroes and got the extra honor of visiting
with the president. 

"It was absolutely fantastic. The president was incredibly personable, and very laid-back. He didn't act as though he was more important than anyone else and was easy to talk to," Horton said. "I was surprised." 

He said that while he was waiting in the Red Room at the White House in order to meet with the president in the Blue Room that Michelle Branch, singer-songwriter, and David Grohl of the Foo Fighters, were meeting with Obama in the Blue Room and Grohl asked about the group Horton was a part of in the next room. Upon hearing who they were, the musician went out of his way to come over and talk to them. Horton reported, "He said that he wanted us to know how much he appreciated us and what we were doing." 

It's been a very busy couple of weeks Horton reported after his arrival from Afghanistan.
He said he thought he was very driven and liked to keep active. 

Among the accomplishments noted in Tech. Sgt. Horton's nomination package for the inital non-commissioned officer AFMC honor were Horton's service in battle as he led 346 missions, receiving the Bronze Star Medal for heroism, the Air Force Combat Action Medal and the Army Combat Action Badge. 

Of note were his efforts in the removal of four injured soldiers from the wreckage after an improvised explosive device attack and the clearing of a medical evacuation landing
zone for the quick removal of the injured. 

Horton's efforts in analyzing tactics, techniques and procedures contributed to the capture of six of the top 10 terrorists in the Kirkuk area of responsibility. 

His efforts under fire and in protecting others from imminent danger both prevented an infantry unit from entering a booby-trapped building, and in another case, recovered
valuable documents from a collapsing courthouse where he "safed" three IEDs. He was
responsible for 111 road-clearing missions covering 5,000 miles and neutralized 79 IEDs in keeping supply roads open. 

Horton led a U.S. Secret Service hazardous devices search team during a visit by President George W. Bush to New York City, and supervised a $1.8 million budget
with an $11.9 million asset resource section which ultimately received the 2008 AFMC Gerald Stryzak "Best Explosive Ordinance Device Flight." 

Another distinction he showed at Hill AFB, included his work as he organized and
purchased the materials to build a memorial for fallen EOD Airmen at a site in a park
central to the base. 

He contributed significant military intelligence in the field in several operations and
led seven humanitarian missions distributing three tons of materials. 

Horton's efforts did not end there, as he focused on self improvement through the completion of two associate degrees, and an 80-hour course on the dynamics of
international terrorism. 

His humanitarian efforts stateside included time spent as a volunteer at an elderly care center and a homeless center where he helped share compassion with Alzheimer
patients and the destitute. 

Horton will receive his award at the Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition held by the Air Force Association in September in Washington, D.C. Those selected for this honor will serve as members of the AFA's enlisted advisory council
for the next year. 

The other winners are: Staff Sgt. Johanna Aviles, Los Angeles AFB, Calif. Senior Master Sgt. Mary Bechdel, Royal Air Force Molesworth, England Master Sgt. Tyrone Bingham, Offutt AFB, Neb. Senior Airman Channel Bolton-Scholl, McChord AFB, Wash. Tech. Sgt. John Carter, RAF Mildenhall, England Tech. Sgt. Manuel Herrera, Scott AFB, Ill. Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Laufer, Maxwell AFB, Ala. Tech. Sgt. Marisol Lozada, Cannon AFB, N.M. Master Sgt. Christopher Pollock, Kadena Air Base, Japan Senior Airman Alexander Royal, Peterson AFB, Colo. Senior Master Sgt. Jeffery Steagall, Peterson AFB, Colo. 

All 33 nominees are authorized to wear the Outstanding Airman of the Year ribbon, while the winners may wear the bronze service star device on the ribbon. The 12 selected will also wear the Outstanding Airman of the Year Badge from the date of the formal presentation in September. 

An Air Force selection board at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, made the final

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