Captain Ryan Hawk and First Lieutenant Samuel Harrison are a part of the team from the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard to win the 2013 Earl T. Ricks Award. It's an award for best Air National Guard Unit Airmanship, as they are first ones from the 167th airlift wing to win it.
"It's a terrific feeling for the whole crew to be able to go and receive something like that," said Captain Hawk. "It's a good representation for the base; hopefully it highlights us in a very positive light."
"It was a good feeling not only for myself and the entire crew, the base and especially the national guard as a whole to able to be trained as an active duty crew," said first Lieutenant Harrison.
These pilots received the recognition for their actions during an April 19th incident overseas involving their crew of 10 airmen. According to officials, a flock of birds flew into the engines severely damaging the aircraft. The plane could've crashed, but on that day crew members were able to make decisions which allowed the plane to land safely saving the lives of the crew.
"When we sustained that damage on the left side of the aircraft, if we continued to stay in the air, we could've lost those engines completely and not maybe not make it back,” says Harrison.
"This award was given because they had severe damage to an airplane and if they had not done everything right that airplane could've been a crash,” said Colonel Roger Nye of 167th Airlift Wing.
Captain Hawk says he would not be here today if it weren't for his fellow crew members.
"Every role is obviously important, each member had a role to play, in the incident once the happened on the bird the engine started giving us a hard time," said Hawk. “Everybody had a role to play and the teamwork was unbelievable."