Naples, Fla. -
Naples Senior Squadron Commander Capt Tom Di Bernardo officiated over the presentation of well earned awards to Naples squadron senior members.
The highlight of the evening was reserved for Special Awards. Capt Jhon Arias received two elusive honors for his participation in Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Captain Arias was awarded the Disaster Relief Ribbon for flying ten missions totaling twenty three hours over a ten day period. He was required to fly in mountainous terrain known for its challenging conditions. Arias said “Flying in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was a great opportunity filled with the challenge of sharing airspace with military aircraft like the Osprey tilt rotor and Chinook helicopter. It was risky due to all the military and civilian air craft in air space uncontrolled by radar. Everyone worked together like family: just amazing.”
He flew multiple missions for aircraft relocation. He also participated in ELT searches for planes that may have been damaged. Arias also flew aerial photography missions where the images would be uploaded to FEMA for hurricane damage analysis.
Arias also received the Air Search and Rescue Ribbon for flying missions for Hurricane Maria
He lastly received the Cadet Orientation Pilot Ribbon for his dedication to flying fifty cadet orientation flights. These free flights introduced cadets to actual flight operations and hands on familiarization of air craft instrumentation.
Naples Squadron Commander Captain Tom Di Bernardo continued with the presentation of awards. Sixteen categories in all filled the agenda. These categories included membership, leadership, red service and community service awards. Five Yeager Awards for Aerospace Education were also given.
Bronze stars for membership were awarded for six categories including forty years to Lt Col Ron Hemond. Three twenty year awards went to Lt Col Thomas Kuznar and Lt Col Charlie Dinsmoor. Marco Island’s Capt George Noren completed the trio.
The largest group of ribbons went for the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award. Twenty seven ribbons were awarded to Naples senior members. A total of ninety one ribbons or silver and bronze stars were awarded.
Honored guests attending included Group 5 Deputy Commander Major Bob Corriveau, Group 5 Safety Officer Lt Col David Maruzzi, Marco Island Squadron Public Affairs Officer Maj Marian Motly-Szary, and Naples Cadet Squadron Deputy Commander 1st Lt David Stevens.