Danville native awarded Bronze Star

January 21, 2004

Danville native Col. Howard P. Hunt III has been awarded the Bronze Star for his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Hunt, a 28-year veteran, is the full-time Commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123d Aircraft Maintenance Group, and served as the grand marshal of Danville's "Welcome Home Veterans Parade" ceremonies in September 2003.

The Bronze Star is awarded to military personnel who distinguish themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving aerial flight, during military operations in war time.

In ceremonies held at the 123d Airlift Wing base in Louisville, Colonel Hunt was presented with the medal. General John Handy, the four-star general who commands the United States Air Force's Air Mobility Command and the United States Transportation Command, made the presentation.


Hunt's Bronze Star Citation reads as follows:

"Colonel Hunt distinguished himself by meritorious achievement as 485th Expeditionary Maintenance Group Commander, 485th Air Expeditionary Wing while engaged in ground combat against an enemy of the United States at King Faisal Air Base, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia from 9 March 2003 t 18 April 2003. During this period, while exposed to surface-to-surface missiles, Colonel Hunt commanded a large, diverse maintenance group supporting a primary fighting force of 46 C-130H and 24 F-15C aircraft employed in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While under austere conditions and often in a hostile environment, he commanded over 1,460 Active Duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Component maintainers, rainbowed from nine different units, to outstanding results. He provided expert maintenance for an intense flying program totaling over 2,600 combat sorties and 8,700 flying hours. Through his guidance and direction, the C-130 mission capable rate of 93.5 percent far exceeded command standards, ensuring the extraordinary success of the wing's wartime mission. The exemplary leadership, personal endeavor, and devotion to duty displayed by Colonel Hunt in this responsible position reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."

"I am deeply honored to receive the Bronze Star Medal," said Hunt, who returned home in August, 2003, after a five-month tour in Southwest Asia. "It's not just recognition of my contributions to the war but recognition of the thousands of great patriots that worked with me during the war. Receiving the Bronze Star is a dream come true. I never really thought I would ever be in a situation that may possibly involve actions that would warrant a Bronze Star."

Three other members of the 123d Airlift Wing received Bronze Stars as well. Colonel Michael Harden, commander of the 123d Airlift Wing, said he is extremely proud of the performance of the four men.

"These individuals represent the best of the Thoroughbred Express," said Harden. "They went to war, did their job and returned with honor. No commander can ask for more, and we should all take pride in knowing that this wing is filled with folks like these."

Hunt is married to April C. Hunt and lives on Perryville Road. They have two children, Howard P. Hunt IV and Bebe Hanna.

Hunt said his troops were the reason he received the medal.

"This award makes me feel like I was a part of history, which is something that I am very proud of," he said. "Many people attribute the award of the Bronze Star as being received by those who make a difference in a war, and to be included in that regard is quite humbling. Our 485th C-130s assisted in the rescue of prisoner of war Private Jessica Lynch and our F-15s were among the first over Baghdad and insured that no Scuds were launched toward Israel, while keeping the Iraqi Air Force ineffective on the ground."

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