JINSA honors Senator Mark Kirk, six young warriors, and one of its own at Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, DC

On December 2, 2013, JINSA held its annual awards dinner in Washington, DC and presented the Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson Distinguished Service Award to Senator Mark Kirk.

On December 2, 2013, JINSA held its annual awards dinner in Washington, DC and presented the Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson Distinguished Service Award to Senator Mark Kirk. For 31 years, the Jackson Award enables JINSA to recognize and thank those leaders whose careers have been distinguished by the principle that is the foundation of JINSA’s work; the belief that the United States requires a strong military capability for both its own security and for that of trustworthy friends and allies. The same evening JINSA also presented its Grateful Nation Award to six young warriors for their superior conduct in the fight against terrorism and one of its own, David P. Steinmann, former JINSA President and Chairman of JINSA’s Board of Advisors, with the National Leadership Award.

According to JINSA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Michael Makovsky, “Senator Kirk is most deserving of this year’s Jackson Award.” Senator Kirk has been a leader on preventing a nuclear Iran. In 2005, then-Congressman Kirk became the first member of Congress to propose a gasoline restriction as the most effective way to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In 2011 and 2012, Senator Kirk co-authored amendments with Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), enacted into law as part of the FY12 and FY13 National Defense Authorization Acts, which imposed sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, blacklisted whole sectors of the Iranian economy and prohibited the sale or delivery of raw, semi-finished and precious metals to Iran. In addition, in 2012, Senator Kirk authored an amendment to impose sanctions on the financial messaging providers servicing designated Iranian banks, which ultimately led the European Union to order the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) to disconnect such banks. These crippling sanctions have exerted unprecedented economic pressure on Iran.

Senator Kirk has been a champion of strengthening ties to our democratic ally Israel, including advancing U.S.-Israel missile cooperation. Then-Congressman Kirk led the bipartisan effort to secure “Eyes in the Sky,” real-time satellite early-warning data, for the State of Israel. With access to “Eyes in the Sky,” Israel’s warning time of an Iranian missile launch grew from less than one minute to a full eleven minutes.

In 2008, Kirk led a bipartisan effort to deploy the X-Band AN/TPY-2 radar system to Israel. The radar doubled Israel’s intercept range – giving Israel at least two engagement windows to bring down an Iranian salvo. Kirk also helped to secure full funding for Israel’s Arrow-3 upper tier missile defense system and has strongly supported the Iron Dome system.

In addition to the Jackson Award, JINSA also presented its Grateful Nation Award to six young warriors for their superior conduct in the fight against terrorism. Honorees are chosen by their respective service and come from the enlisted, noncommissioned officer and junior officer ranks. They represent each of the five branches of the U.S. military and the U.S. Special Operations Command. This year Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander of Special Operations assisted in presenting the award. The honorees, along with their citations are below:

First Lieutenant Robert A. Heber, Jr.
United States Army

First Lieutenant Robert A. Heber, Jr. currently serves in the 205th Military Intelligence Battalion, Fort Shafter, Hawaii. His 13 years of contributions as a non-commissioned officer with the 75th Ranger Regiment began with the United States’ earliest involvement in Afghanistan, including eight deployments to Afghanistan and one to Iraq and continue today as an officer. After September 11, 2001 and throughout the Global War on Terrorism, he was responsible for training and mentoring Special Operations Forces and Ranger Regiment snipers and various special mission teams to deploy, execute special operations, intelligence, and reconnaissance missions, and return safely. His first deployment came in October 2001 when he and 169 other Rangers conducted a night parachute assault to seize the airfield at Kandahar, Afghanistan. He conducted a second night parachute assault to seize an airfield in western Iraq and then participated in the assault on Baghdad. His personal contributions during these operations led to the removal of dozens of high value Taliban, Iraqi, and al Qaeda members from the battlefield. He earned the Bronze Star. He was responsible for leading, employing, managing, and safeguarding his subordinates engaged in armed combat, operating independently from larger elements, while tasked with high priority missions and being tested in the most demanding and unforgiving combat environments. He has undergone several exclusive, advanced programs of leader training that led to his participating in the development of the Asymmetric Operations Working Group. In 2010, he was recognized as the Asymmetric Warrior of the Year and was selected to commission as an officer. In 2012, he had earned his bachelor’s degree, completed officer training, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He was an outstanding noncommissioned officer and made the transition to the officer ranks seamlessly, where he provides direct mentorship to junior soldiers daily. First Lieutenant Heber exemplifies a true warrior and leader who embodies the principle of selfless service to his country.

Sergeant Anthony A. Arriaga
United States Marine Corps

On July 30, 2010, Sergeant Anthony A. Arriaga, then-Corporal Arriaga, was serving as a fire team leader with 2nd Battalion, Fourth Marines, when his team came under heavy, accurate fire from six separate enemy position while on combat patrol in Marja, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Taking aggressive action, he immediately and repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to provide suppressive fire to cover his team’s movement out of danger. While bounding, he was shot in his body equipment, knocking him to the ground. Disregarding his personal safety, he exposed himself and returned fire. During this engagement Corporal Arriaga was shot a second time by a precision shooter. He immediately reported his wounds and administered self- aid while continuing to direct the action of his team. At the same time, he called in his own medical evacuation request. While receiving aid from a corpsman and still under heavy fire, he continued to expose himself and direct the fire and maneuver of his team. Corporal Arriaga’s courage and devotion to his Marines inspired them to aggressively engage the enemy, breaking the enemy’s will to fight and forcing their withdrawal. His severe and debilitating wounds could have diverted any Marine’s personal development. Corporal Arriaga, however, did not see it that way. He took his wounds as a way to remake himself into a better Marine. During his recovery, he made it his individual responsibility to continue to mentor other Marines and set the example of what it means to be a Marine. A few of his accolades and accomplishments include: dedicating his time and wealth of knowledge to instructing Marines on all aspects of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, in pursuit of which he gave speeches and guided discussions throughout Camp Pendleton, reaching more that 800 Marines just since the summer of 2013 and being named the Wounded Warrior Regiment’s Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. In recognition for his post-wounding achievements, Corporal Arriaga was meritoriously promoted to sergeant, the first meritorious promotion of this grade awarded in the Wounded Warrior Regiment. Sergeant Anthony A. Arriaga epitomizes the core values and citizen-warrior attributes of the Marine Corps. His self less dedication to the Marine Corps and his community exemplifies the JINSA Grateful Nation Award and the goals of the organization.

Chief Petty Office Brian P. High
United States Navy

Chief Petty Officer Brian P. High is a Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Mission Commander with Patrol Squadron SIXTEEN, based at Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Chief High, understanding that his highly developed skill set was needed to support troops in the field, volunteered as an individual augmentee for service in Shindand, Afghanistan from July 2013 to October 2013. During that time, he supported time- critical Special Operations activities in a hostile and ever changing environment. As a Scan Eagle Mission Commander, Chief High was responsible for the safe and timely execution of real time intelligence collection and direct action support of forward deployed Special Operations Forces. Chief High’s Scan Eagle team has been lauded by the entire Special Operations community for its ability to quickly get on target, and effectively communicate mission information. Many American and Coalition lives were saved due to Chief High’s Scan Eagle team’s tireless dedication to duty, making him most worthy of the recognition afforded by the JINSA Grateful Nation Award.

Petty Officer Third Class Michael R. Brooks
United States Coast Guard

Petty Officer Third Class Michael R. Brooks of Cryptologic Unit Hawaii, an Intelligence Specialist, distinguished himself by exceptional service while deployed with Cryptologic Support Team 34 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from February to July 2013. As a volunteer for this highly sought after Afghanistan deployment, Petty Officer Brooks performed admirably in a hostile environment where he proficiently transitioned from providing maritime operationally-focused intelligence products to generating intelligence reports spotlighting ground forces support and logistics. During three Afghan National Army and International Security Force operations, Petty Officer Brooks provided critical force protection resulting in zero casualties. During his deployment, he exhibited exemplary leadership that included training a team of eight U.S. Army Signals Intelligence analysts in utilizing an updated analysis reporting tool suite, resulting in a significant increase in the capability of Brigade Forces in forming a complete common operational picture of the threats in the immediate area. Petty Officer Brooks worked tirelessly to provide signals intelligence support to U.S. and Coalition forces and exercised dynamic leadership and selfless bravery in the field. In response to indirect fire attacks to the forward operating base where he was located, he used his first responder training to aid the medical response team in triage. Petty Officer Brooks is held in the highest esteem by seniors, peers, and juniors in the joint service workplace as a result of his laudable operational accomplishments both in the field and at home.As a third class petty officer, in competition with first and second class petty officers, he earned recognition as Cryptologic Unit Hawaii’s Sailor of the Quarter from July to September 2012, which had a direct impact on his selection for highly desired Afghanistan deployment. Upon his return from Afghanistan, Petty Officer Brooks was awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal for his superior accomplishments.

Technical Sergeant Michael T. Blout
United States Air Force

Technical Sergeant Michael T. Blout, a Combat Control Craftsman with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, 720th Special Tactics Group, 24th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt, Florida, acted as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller for an elite Army Special Forces team during eight high-risk combat missions in Afghanistan. On one mission, while clearing an enemy-held valley in Wardak, then-Staff Sergeant Blout learned of a casualty in an area some distance from his position. He immediately selected a small quick-reaction force and led them on a one-mile sprint toward hostile gunfire. Upon reaching a clearing, he located both the casualty and a combat medic working furiously to save his life. Sergeant Blout immediately placed himself between them and the nearby enemy, whose forces were well dug in along a nearby tree line. Amidst unrelenting enemy fire, Sergeant Blout called for a medical evacuation helicopter. Next, he coordinated an AC-130 gunship attack on the enemy. At the sound of the approaching evacuation helicopter, Sergeant Blout, ignoring enemy fire erupting all around him, dashed to open area to mark the landing zone. During this entire time, he was on the radio coordinating the evacuation helicopter’s approach and the gunship’s attack runs, while simultaneously returning the enemy’s fire with his personal weapon. Seeing an opportunity to shoot down the rescue helicopter, the enemy increased its fire as it approached. Sensing that the enemy might succeed, Sergeant Blout aborted the landing and moved closer to the enemy’s position to suppress their fire, now joined by his team. They closed within 30 meters and the intensity of their fire on the enemy allowed the rescue helicopter to land and take on the casualty. At this point, the enemy pressed forward and Sergeant Blout led his heavily outnumbered team in a withdrawal while he simultaneously called in strafing runs by AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. As the Apaches departed, the enemy raced to cut off Sergeant Blout’s team, using the dense foliage to cover their movements. The situation had now become a fighting withdrawal with enemy fire coming from the flanks as Sergeant Blout’s team repeatedly returned fire and bounded to new positions in an attempt to link up with reinforcements. Reaching exhaustion, the team held its ground while Sergeant Blout again exposed himself to positively identify insurgent positions as he coordinated another series of Apache strafing runs that ultimately ended the action and enabled the link up with the reinforcements. For his actions that day, Technical Sergeant Blout has been nominated for the Silver Star.

Captain William R. Wright, USA
United States Special Operations Command

Captain William R. Wright, Detachment Commander of Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha 3112, Alpha Company, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), conducted village stability operations from September 2012 through April 2013 in three key terrain districts in eastern Paktia Province, Afghanistan. His efforts resulted in developing each district to such an extent that he enabled their complete transition to the sovereignty of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Captain Wright masterfully synchronized operations between his Special Forces Detachment and Coalition Forces, Interagency Partners, three Afghan District Sub-National Governances, and more than 3,000 Afghan National Security Forces to achieve great success with Village Stability Operations. His leadership spearheaded the Afghanistan Government’s efforts to establish legitimacy in several highly contested areas. Captain Wright expertly coordinated bottom-up intelligence-driven Afghan partner force and Coalition Force Special Operations Forces operations that resulted in the capture of 23 Joint Prioritized Effects List targets in Chamkani District. He also facilitated the planning and execution of several large-scale battalion-sized joint interagency, and combined clearing operations to facilitate village stability operations expansion into the Jani Kheyl District. Captain Wright also worked with the District governments to recruit more than 900 Afghan Local Police to augment Afghan national military forces security operations in key rural areas. He leveraged his unique Afghan partner force capabilities to train a core cadre of Afghan Local Police instructors in each district to orchestrate the three- week program of instruction and certify the police candidates under the Interior Ministry. He also spearheaded an Interior Ministry counter-improvised explosive device program in his districts, where he achieved district government endorsement to counter the largest threat to Afghan civilians and military personnel through the establishment of a Civil Mine Reduction Group. Captain Wright’s outstanding service, achievements and devotion to the Special Operations community reflect great credit upon himself, the United States Army Special Operations Command, the United States Army, and the people of the United States of America.

The same evening JINSA also honored one of its own, David P. Steinmann, former JINSA President and Chairman of JINSA’s Board of Advisors, with the National Leadership Award.

David P. Steinmann served as President of JINSA from 1994 to 1998. Since 1998, David has served as Chairman of JINSA’s Board of Advisors. Through his boundless passion and knowledge, he elevated the Board of Advisors into a vibrant entity that helps drive JINSA’s mission.

Almost all of JINSA’s programs can be traced back to David’s leadership, support, and vision for the organization to include the establishment of the Grateful Nation Award, the JINSA Holiday Appeal for Deserving Soldiers, and the Law Enforcement Exchange Program with Israel.

David’s leadership of JINSA includes numerous trips to Israel and Jordan designed for American Generals & Admirals. Additionally, he led JINSA visits to strategically important countries including South Korea, India, Germany, and Turkey. He has participated in countless visits to American military bases and installations both domestically and internationally.

Among military leaders both in Israel and the U.S., David is regarded as a trusted JINSA leader who continues to play an important role in maintaining and strengthening the relationship between the two defense establishments.

For the fifth consecutive year, the emcee for the evening was Catherine Herridge, Chief Intelligence Correspondent for Fox News and author of the book The Next Wave: On the Hunt for al Qaeda’s American Recruits. Also joining the JINSA dinner for the fifth consecutive year was Nashville based country musicians Ricochet, who performed the National Anthem.