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9th Bomb Squadron recognizes Top Bat

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class April McAnally
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The B-1B Lancers have made their presence known around the world through the U.S. Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence mission, during Exercise Ample Strike for U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa, Exercise Talisman Saber 17 with Royal Australian Air Force, and several joint training and bilateral training missions.

Before a B-1B departs on a mission, there are hundreds of hands that touch the aircraft. There are numerous work hours put into the aircraft and mission but how can one receive recognition for their hard work and dedication?

Lt. Col. Erick Lord, 9th Bomb Squadron commander, said the Top Bat award should be a good transition with the quarterly awards. There are times that Airmen from the 9th BS do not get to participate in extracurricular events or other events on base because when pilots are scheduled to fly, it is 12-14 hours at a time. This program is a way to say thank you for the hard work and that it is being noticed.

The 9th BS came up with a new program to recognize an Airman in the squadron who has gone above and beyond. The winner was voted on by peers in the squadron. Capt. Alex “Auto” Benson, 9th BS exercises and plans specialist, won the Top Bat award.

“One of the things that we take for granted is the work that goes on in the squadron to accomplish the mission,” Lord said. “The idea behind Top Bat is peer recognition, so I have zero say in this award.”

Lord listed his five priorities for his Airmen to consider when voting:

Preparation – each Airman prepares for war every day and prepares to be future leaders.

Passion – to be proud and passionate about what each person does and how they can contribute to the mission.

Pride – be prideful in the heritage, not to get confused with pride in any bad traditions.

Problems – don’t walk past a problem, try to find a solution and if an Airman cannot find a solution, find someone who can help.

Professionalism – this priority comes with the Air Force core values.

Each ballot casted by his peers had an explanation of why they chose Benson and it was apparent that he exhibits those qualities through and through.

“I feel absolutely honored,” Benson said. “I think it’s a great program, especially for some of the younger guys who work their tails off, but don’t necessarily do something so that they will look good on a [performance report].”

Benson believes this is a great award to recognize peers. In the past, he would see Airmen fall through the cracks even though they put forth so much time and effort into the mission this program has the opportunity to recognize them.

“This Airman in particular hit the ground running when they got to the squadron,” Lord said. “Every single comment hit those five priorities. The big highlights from the votes were: always willing to help, always actively involved, always willing to soak up the not-so-good deals to make business carry on for our mission, and always willing to help new people with the B-1 upgrades. What makes this even more unique is that Auto is one of the newest Bats at this squadron. Generally, the lieutenants in the squadron tend to pick up some of the additional duties, the not-so-glorious jobs but Auto did it as a major-select. He did it without saying a word, so, that sends a message that it takes everyone in this squadron to get the job done.

“This is a bit of an affirmation and a thank you for doing all the hard work every day that absolutely has to be done,” Lord said. “There are 69 or so other people in this squadron that were doing all those things but his peers recognized Auto over everybody else.”