In June 2013, the HAW Service Medal was approved for use by the twelve nations of the Strategic Airlift Capability, but until now, it could only be awarded to service personnel from Estonia, Finland, Norway, Poland, and Romania. On 14 January U.S. Air Force personnel was added to that list, when the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Manpower, Personnel and Services Directorate approved the medal.
"It is a huge win for the program for the U.S. Air Force to approve this decoration," said Col. James Sparrow, HAW vice commander.
The HAW Service Medal gives commanders with the HAW the opportunity to recognize the personal achievements and the effort put in by the individuals serving with the unit, supporting the wing's mission, to provide the twelve member nations assured access to military airlift capability, by operating three C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.
"We sincerely appreciate all of the assistance that everyone in the Personnel Directorate provided navigating this process." said Sparrow. "As the lead nation in the SAC program, this sets a great example for the remaining nations who haven't yet done it to do so."
About the Strategic Airlift Capability
Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), established in 2008, is a multinational program that provides its 12 member nations with assured access to military airlift capability by owning and operating three Boeing C-17A Globemaster III long-range cargo aircraft.
SAC is based at the Hungarian Defense Forces (HDF) Pápa Air Base, Hungary.
The SAC Nations are the NATO members Hungary (program host nation), Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States and NATO Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden. Each participating nation owns a share of the available flight hours of the SAC C-17As to serve the needs of their national defense, NATO, EU or UN commitments and humanitarian relief efforts.
SAC consists of the 12-nation Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) and the NATO Airlift Management Programme Office (NAM PO). The HAW is the operational unit and the NAM PO, an integral part of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), is the acquisition and sustainment authority of the SAC C-17A weapon system.
NAM PO contracts with the U.S. Government, via Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Agreements with the USAF, for SAC C-17 Technical and integrated Product Support, Flight Crew Training and operational data services. The USAF in turn sub-contracts many of these services to Industry; notably Boeing and Pratt & Whitney.