“Mustang” command chief receives Bronze Star
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 51st Fighter Wing’s very own command chief was awarded his second Bronze Star Medal Sept. 27, 2016, for actions taken during a deployment to Afghanistan.
U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Alexander P. Del Valle received the BSM for his accomplishments serving as the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing command chief at Forward Operating Base Oqab, Kabul, from February 2015 to January 2016.
The BSM is a decoration awarded to U.S. service members for heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement or meritorious service in a combat zone such as Afghanistan.
“[This BSM] symbolizes to me that the commander [of the 438th AEW] appreciates and recognizes the work I did to advance the mission,” said Del Valle. “I hold it in high regard in the sense the commander thought highly enough of the mission accomplishment that I did to nominate me for a decoration.”
Even though Del Valle was the recipient, the BSM serves as a reflection to him of his team at the 438th AEW.
“I can assure you that if I fall, the mission will still continue… but without the team, I could achieve absolutely nothing,” said Del Valle. “I’d like to believe they followed me, not because of the stripes on my sleeves, but because they believed in what I was giving to them. They willingly followed me so we could accomplish our tactical mission.”
Serving as the sole air advisor to the Command Sergeant Major of the Afghan air force during his tenure at Kabul, Del Valle gained valuable life lessons that continue to contribute to his role here at Osan.
“It gave me new perspective into what the life is like over there,” said Del Valle. “To capture the experiences I’ve had opposed to my time at Mountain Home [AFB, Idaho] or leaving Eielson [AFB, Alaska], this one is much more significant. It says I did something different in a more difficult environment.”
As Del Valle’s time at the 438th AEW came to a close, U.S. Air Force Col. Andrew Hansen, 51st FW commander, offered him the responsibility and role to be the Mustang’s command chief.
“As I looked more into the job as the command chief of the most forwardly-deployed location in the Air Force, I wasn’t exactly sure of what to expect,” Del Valle. “I have been able to translate what I’ve learned in Kabul into being here, where there is an exceedingly realistic threat. It’s important to remember where you are, especially with the all the great things Korea has to offer with its cultural experiences.”
Hansen knew of Del Valle’s strong leadership abilities as they served alongside each other at Eielson in the past, and Del Valle’s Bronze Star translates that faith entirely.
“Chief Del Valle has some of the strongest leadership skills I’ve seen,” said Hansen. “I’ve been lucky enough to work with him for two assignments now, and I can attest to his work-ethic and ability to lead Airmen by example. He certainly deserves this recognition, and we are all thankful to have him on the Mustang team.”