USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- A USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Sailor was recently awarded a bronze star medal for meritorious service after returning to the ship from a nine-month individual augmentee (IA) deployment to the Middle East.
During his IA tour, Lt. Thomas Amano, of the ship's air department, served as officer in charge of the Iraqi Correctional Officer Village at Theatre Interment Facility Reconciliation Center on Camp Taji, Iraq.
Bronze Star Medal is the fourth highest military decoration in the US Armed Forces, and is awarded to service members for bravery, acts of merit or meritorious service, explained Amano.
"I was very taken back, and humbled when I first heard I was receiving a Bronze Star," said the Beaverton, Ore. native. "It's a huge honor to receive this award."
He led a team of 45 Sailors and was directly responsible for the safety, security and transportation of more than 2,500 Iraqi correctional officers during his tour. He also directed reception and convoy movement of groups of more than 650 Iraqi correctional officers from an unsecured parking lot outside the contingency operating base to the reconciliation center.
Though deployment to Iraq can be stressful, Amano said the lessons he learned while working on the ship helped prepare him for his IA.
"I feel like my experiences from the flight deck helped whip me into shape for this deployment," he said. "I had to remember to always remain vigilant, keeping my head on a swivel, just like when I'm up topside. I think this mentality helped keep my Sailors and I safe during our tour there."
While deployed, Amano said it was difficult to communicate with his family, but said when he was honored with the award, it helped him show his family his dedication to duty.
"I don't talk about my job much when I'm at home, especially while I was there, so it was a little hard at times," he said. "When my wife read the citation for the award, she was in shock. I think it offers her a sort of validation for the nine months I was gone."
While Amano adjusts back into ship life, he said he will maintain the same type of work ethic he went into his IA with, and offers some advice for other crew members.
"I went into this IA with the intent of doing the best I could do with what I had, and ensuring the safety of my Sailors," he said. "It's all about playing your part. Everyone plays a key part in the Navy's mission, no matter what department, rate or rank. If we all keep that in mind, and work as a team we can reach and better yet, exceed our goals."
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