VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- A Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) Command Sailor was awarded the Bronze Star Medal during a ceremony on board Naval Air Station Oceana, Dam Neck Annex, Va., March 11.
Lt. j.g. Ron Kolpak earned the award for his service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a humanitarian assistant, civil affairs officer from October 2008 to September 2009, while assigned to Afghan Regional Security Integration Command-West as part of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix located in Kabul, Afghanistan.
"I worked hard to contribute to the war effort and make good use of the time spent away from my family," said Kolpak. "The days were long and downtime rare. We worked in some of the toughest conditions I could imagine, but that's civil affairs. If you are going to be truly successful and really contribute to the operation you have to get away from your desk."
Kolpak's service in Afghanistan led to more than 250 tons of humanitarian assistance relief supplies being distributed to more than 500,000 Afghans in 12 conflict ravaged districts. An integral component of the United States' counter-insurgency operations, civic assistance programs bring local national security forces, local and international non-governmental organizations and U.S. elements together to build lasting stability.
"It really is a great honor to be recognized like this," said Kolpak, who was accompanied by his wife Darlena and three children Kai, Karlie, and Kaden at the ceremony. "Awards aren't why we serve, but it is nice to have your accomplishments recognized."
Kolpak now serves as a maritime civil affairs planner for Pacific Partnership 2011.
MCAST Command was formed in 2009 from the merger of the former Maritime Civil Affairs Group and Expeditionary Training Command, under the guidance of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, and is homeported onboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Virginia.
For more news from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/MCAST/.