SOG pilot, navigator recognized by ATA

  • Published
  • By By Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer
  • 353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs
A pilot and navigator from the 353rd Special Operations Group were recognized by the Airlift Tanker Association during an award banquet held Oct. 29 in Orlando, Florida.

Maj. Robert Bingham, an MC-130J Commando II evaluator pilot from the 17th Special Operations Squadron was awarded the General P.K. Carlton Award for Valor while Capt. Thomas Sanders, an MC-130H Combat Talon II instructor navigator with the 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron was presented the ATA Young Leadership Award.

According to the ATA web site, the General P.K. Carlton Award for Valor “identifies and recognizes an outstanding airlift or tanker aircrew or aircrew member for valor” and the ATA Young Leadership Award “identifies and recognizes 12 outstanding individuals who will likely become future leader within the Air Mobility community.”

“These two individuals are being recognized because they have gone above and beyond the call of duty,” said Col. William Freeman, 353rd Special Operations Group commander. “They both not only demonstrate what it means to be an outstanding leader in the Air Force Special Operations Command community but also a great leader in the airlift/tanker community.”

When submitted for the award, Bingham was assigned to the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. While deployed to Afghanistan in 2014, Bingham and his crew provided support for the first democratic transition of power in Afghanistan. Bingham led his crew while providing logistical, helicopter tanker and medical evacuation support through the dangerous terrain throughout Afghanistan’s four northeastern provinces. Although Bingham and his crew faced security and logistical challenges while transporting the ballot boxes, his leadership allowed the innovated ideas to flow among the crew. Bingham and his crew transported all ballot boxes while ensuring no damage or compromise of election material which lead to the first democratic transition of power for the Afghan government.

While assigned to the 1st Special Operations Squadron, Sanders deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom delivering 310,000 pounds of cargo, nearly 400 special operations forces and 123,000 pounds of fuel. During a presidential-directed hostage mission, he passed 123,000 pounds of fuel which enabled insertion of special operations team and the recovery of eight hostages. Whil at home station, Sanders flew 420 hours and completed 152 sorties while participating in six Joint Chief of Staff and Joint Combined Exchange Training exercises with eight allied nations around the Pacific. Sanders also directed maritime intercept training of two SOF boat formation drops and 4-ship dissimilar formation airdrops.

These two awards are sponsored by the ATA and administered by the Air Mobility Command. ATA is comprised of active duty, reserve and retired officers and enlisted along with civilian and industrial supporters of the air mobility community.