Your special military issue phone buzzes, and you answer the call. A US Specials Operations Task Force team has become engaged in a furious fire-fight with Taliban forces and they are now isolated from supporting units. They are dangerously low on ammunition, trapped inside a safe house compound and are surrounded by enemy forces. You are told that the team is in dire need of re-supply or else face almost certain destruction. Luckily, you are a part of a 7-person rescue team, known as OUZO 05 – and these kinds of missions are what you’re trained to do.
Within fifteen minutes, your team has uploaded six container delivery system bundles of small arms ammunition, grenades, and vehicle fuel weighing 10,500 pounds in order to answer the call for help. Less than an hour later you are under attack yourself – narrowly escaping enemy fire. As you sit just inside the doorway of a military helicopter, you say a prayer for yourself and the soldiers you are trying to rescue. You’re helicopter has a bleeding air leak, and a missing window. These crippling handicaps are preventing you from flying at the higher altitudes where depressurized flights are necessary in order to escape the ongoing attacks from Taliban forces.
This is not some sort of screen play for an upcoming summer blockbuster, or an excerpt from a thrilling novel purchased at Barnes and Nobel – but rather, this is a day on the job for Hill Country resident, Michael Walters.
Michael Walters, the son of Marvin and Kay Walters, brother of Kristalle Erwin, and a 1999 graduate from LBJ High School, is an MC-130 load master in a Special Ops team based at Mildenhall Air Force Base in the United Kingdom.
Last September, Walters and the rest of OUZO O5 received the 2007 Lieutenant General William H. Tunner Team Award for the Most Outstanding Airlift Crew in the U.S. Air Force. Not only did they receive special recognition for their record setting upload in 15 minutes, but OUZO 05 also performed a “blacked out” takeoff from Kandahar to the drop zone at an altitude of only 250 feet.
Because the MC-130’s drop zone coordinates were hundreds of yards from the pinned down team, the air team visually acquired the safe house on the run-in while receiving arms fire from the enemy and landing the re-supply bundles 20 feet from the safe house door.
The life saving ammunition was used immediately; the team held position and kept the Taliban at bay.
The Joint Task Force Commander said that “OUZO 05’s superior performance and steadfast professionalism under combat conditions, with our forces’ lives on the line, clearly merit selection for the most outstanding airlift crew award.”
The OUZO 05 team traveled to Washington D.C last September to receive their award.
A special congratulations is in order to Maj. Jack Aalborg, Capt. Sid Kennedy, Capt. Drew Connar, Capt. Justin Norton, MSgt Scott Blank, TSgt Lynn Howard and Hill Country resident, SSgt Mike Walters.