By Maj. Corinna Moylan
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Col. Courtney J. Arnold, 302nd Airlift Wing vice commander and C-130 command pilot with more than 4,700 flying hours was presented with the Legion of Merit Award during his retirement ceremony here Jan. 10, 2015. He served a total of 26 years, on active duty, as a Guardsman and in the Air Force Reserve.
The Legion of Merit is a military award of the United States Armed Forces that is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements and is seventh in the order of precedence of U.S. military awards. Arnold is among only a handful of 302nd AW leaders to receive this honor upon his departure.
Arnold distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the United States while assigned to the 302nd AW from April 3, 2009 to Jan. 15, 2015. The award cites that his exemplary ability and devotion to duty both of which were instrumental factors in the resolution of many complex issues of major importance to the U.S. Air Force.
The award recognizes both Arnold’s service and accomplishments as the 731st Airlift Squadron commander from July 2007 to August 2010, as the 302nd AW vice commander from August of 2010 to present and serving on full-time orders as the unit’s commander when the wing’s full-time commander was deployed from January through September of 2014.
“As the 731st Airlift Squadron commander, he demonstrated exceptional leadership by
embracing the total force integration concept, seamlessly integrating the active duty 52nd Airlift Squadron into Air Reserve component operations,” the citation reads. “This integration effort was lauded by Air Force Reserve Command and Air Mobility Command leadership as an Air Force benchmark.”
The award goes on to recognize Arnold’s service as the 302nd AW vice commander from August 2010 to January 2015.
“As a C-130 expert, Colonel Arnold oversaw the implementation of the Wing’s second generation Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) in support of the U. S. Forest Service’s nation-wide firefighting mission,” the award states. “Colonel Arnold’s efforts enabled the wing to rapidly respond to the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire and 2013 Black Forest fire, answering the nation’s call in less than 12 hours.”
The award also credits Arnold’s leadership in the wing receiving an “Excellent” rating for employment of forces during the Air Mobility Command 2012 Readiness Inspection and forging the relationship with the 21st Space Wing, to include the initial effort to create the Colorado Springs Regional Command Post. The Command post went on to earn Air Force Space Command, Command Post of the Year for 2013.
He was also credited with leading the 302nd AW as the commander through the 2014 Combined Air Reserve and Air Mobility Command Unit Effectiveness Inspection, garnering a “Highly Effective” rating in the area of executing the mission.
Hundreds of 302nd AW Airmen attended the retirement ceremony in a 302nd AW hangar to say, “thank you.” U.S. Air Force retired Col. Burton R. Chapman, former 302 Airlift Wing vice commander, added, “You made a difference.”
“Our country, our Air Force, this wing is better because of that man right there,” Chapman said, pointing to Arnold. “Courtney told me, ‘What I enjoyed the most was watching our Airmen come back from the AOR [Area of Responsibility] and watching the joy on their family’s faces. The pride I felt from that and the relief I felt that they were all back safe,’ is a classic Courtney response. That’s what I expect from that man.”
Arnold had his own words of thanks to express.
“To the men and women of the 302nd, I’m grateful for all of your ‘thank yous’ and kind words, it’s very humbling. But I will tell you that I find it a little ironic because I feel like I should be the one thanking all of you,” he said. “Thank you for sharing your milestones, for sharing your dreams, your goals, your successes, both professional and personal. Thank you for letting me be a part of it and sharing it with me.”
The 302nd Airlift Wing is located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. and is one of nine Air Force Reserve C-130 units in the nation with an airdrop and airlift mission. The primary operational mission of the 302nd AW is tactical airlift and airdrop. The wing also has the specialized mission of aerial firefighting, as well as an aeromedical evacuation mission.