2008 airforce Times
Honorable Mentions

Tech. Sgt. Darrell DeMotta

2nd Air Support Operations Squadron

His boss didn't waiver when it came to choosing a lone joint terminal attack controller who would deploy to Iraq with an Army Special Forces team. "Technical Sergeant Darrell DeMotta volunteered for this duty, and I sent him without reservation due to his tactical knowledge, technical proficiency and his ability to respond calmly under pressure," said Lt. Col. Lee H. Marsh Jr., 2nd Air Operations Support Squadron.

DeMotta, the squadron's operations non-commissioned officer in charge, saved lives during the deployment, including an Iraqi police officer's after a sniper shot the officer, who was standing in front of him.

DeMotta also dragged one of the soldiers out of a house after three team members got shot during a raid on a suspected terrorist cell. In the midst of the firefight, he controlled helicopters and fighters while also setting up a medevac to save the casualties.

"Technical Sergeant Demotta never stopped controlling aircraft during the ordeal despite the immediate ground threat, an extraordinary act under the circumstances," said Master Sgt. Timothy Crusing, 2nd ASOS superintendent.

He earned a Bronze Star for his bravery on his last Iraq deployment.

At home, DeMotta and his wife help orphans in Eastern Europe, close to the 2nd's location in Germany. At Christmas, they bought gifts for 20 orphans from the Czech Republic, ranging from newborns to teenagers. DeMotta was also a reader for the first grade at a local elementary school.

Tech Sgt. Earl Covel Covel

Joint Terminal Attack Controller, McChord Air Force Base

Attached to a special operations unit, Covel's team took heavy fire, immediately sustaining four casualties while trying to arrest a high-value individual.

Few unclassified details exist for the mission, but Covel's supervisor, Master Sgt. Chistopher Spann, explains how Covel saved lives by establishing a medevac landing zone to fly out the wounded, including the unit commander.

"Technical Sergeant Covel displayed extremely heroic behavior when he took control of an out-of-control situation," Spann said.

Once friendly forces cleared the area, Covel directed an AC-130 gunship to pepper the enemy with rounds followed by an A-10 that destroyed the target with four 500-pound bombs.

He earned a Silver Star for his actions in Iraq and was getting selected as the Air Combat Command NCO of the year.

Back at Fort Lewis, Wash., Covel reduced the Combat Mission Ready Training Program by more than four months while maintaining the level of training.

Covel is a volunteer at home, too, mentoring mentoring underprivileged students at Walker High School.