05/06/11 — Gates presents airman with Bronze Star today

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Gates presents airman with Bronze Star today

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 6, 2011 1:46 PM

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Senior Master Sergeant Arnel B. Abad was awarded the Bronze Star by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Arnel Abad was nervous.

It had been less than 24 hours since he was told he would be receiving the Bronze Star from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

So with his family by his side, he found something to get him through the minutes leading up to the presentation.

For a moment, he was just another father -- helping his 7-year-old son, Austin, fix his hair and jacket, smiling as his 11-year-old daughter, Janelle, readied her digital camera.

The 4th Fighter Wing senior master sergeant was honored this morning for his role in "helping soldiers do their job" in Afghanistan from September 2010 through March 2011.

But like many before him who have received similar decorations, he chose to focus not on what he had accomplished, but what his comrades in the 877th Expeditionary Prime Beef Squadron enabled him to do at Camp Marmel.

"We have a good team -- awesome," he said. "They work hard. I'm greatly humbled ... but this is more of a tribute ... to those guys."

During his deployment -- this was the airman's fifth tour since he came to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base five years ago -- he "superbly" led 52 multi-craft personnel in support of the planning and execution of 335 project requirements, including building helicopter landing pads.

"We're the guys making sure the helicopters fly," Abad said.

But now that he's home, he's not thinking too much about time spent in theater -- or the prospect of going back one day.

For the moment, he is just another father, even if, now, he is decorated one.