KYwingThe 2023 Air Forces Northern Command (AFNORTH) Commander’s Award, presented annually for the most meritorious Civil Air Patrol mission of the previous year, recognizes Kentucky Wing members for their response to extreme flooding in the Bluegrass State last summer.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven S. Nordhaus, commander of AFNORTH, made the presentation Aug. 18 during CAP’s 2023 National Conference in Bellevue, Washington.

Maj. Ian Burkett, wing emergency services officer and CAP’s lead liaison officer for the mission, accompanied by Col. Brian Schmuck, commander of the Kentucky Wing, accepted the award — given for the wing’s unprecedented relief efforts in response to several complexes of thunderstorms between July 28-Aug. 25, 2022, that brought heavy rain, deadly flash flooding, and devastating river flooding to eastern Kentucky and central Appalachia.

AFNORTH“I am proud of the exceptional teamwork and dedication demonstrated by Maj. Burkett and all of our auxiliary airmen who contributed to this very significant disaster response,” Schmuck said.

“This would not have been possible without CAP’s strong emphasis on safety, training, and professionalism, which allowed for over 160 personnel from nine other wings to easily support us — a true embodiment of the ‘One CAP’ philosophy.”

With assistance from CAP’s Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin wings, as well as the Great Lakes Region Headquarters staff, Kentucky Wing members totaled more than 9,800 volunteer hours while also dealing with their own property damage. In all, members from 29 wings and four regions supported the response from as far away as Hawaii supporting CAP’s Geospatial Team.

The Air Force citation accompanying the AFNORTH Commander’s Award said, “The men and women of the Kentucky Wing and their mission partners flew 120 sorties in 17 separate aircraft for a total 195.7 flight hours. The air arm of CAP’s response obtained over 2,000 damage assessment photos and delivered personnel and cargo as well as airborne communications relay missions to support urban search and rescue operations.

“Additionally, the Kentucky Wing ran 63 ground sorties with 11 corporate vehicles. In support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, these sorties recorded water mark levels, which geotagged photos of water marks on known structures and landmarks. Along with initial damage assessment, this data combined with know water levels and elevations helped determine unknown or unreported damage.”