SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Deputy assistant secretary of defense for Maintenance Policy and Programs, presented the Phoenix Award trophy to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77, Nov. 29.
John B. Johns presented the award inside HSM 77's hangar aboard Naval Air Station North Island.
The Phoenix Award is presented to a military maintenance organization that is labeled as the most excellent in unit or field-level maintenance in the entire Department of Defense across all the uniform services.
Before the unveiling, Johns toured the award-winning squadron's work areas including the maintenance control room, tool room, electronic shop and hangar. With the HSM-77 Sailors gathered in the hangar, Johns unveiled and presented the trophy.
"This level of performance is recognized by the Phoenix trophy under order of the secretary of defense for the best maintenance unit in the entire department," said Johns. "The phoenix statue is symbolic of maintenance operations and the restoration of life and capability in equipment and overhaul; creating that new life so operators may apply that readiness maintainers generate."
HSM-77 earned the award for their accomplishments while operating and maintaining MH-60R "Seahawk" helicopters during their first-ever combat deployment with the newly transitioned airframes to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility with the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and other ships within the strike group.
"It is a reflection of the quality of work the junior Sailors have done in the high-operation tempo we have," said Lt. Cmdr. Aric Edmondson, HSM-77 maintenance officer. "They were pressed to work on the weekends and earn many qualifications, even while going on back-to-back deployments and sending out detachments."
On deployment, maintainers would spend approximately 16 hours performing top-to-bottom examinations, including checking panels and fluids and inspecting wires, tires and rotors to ensure the helicopters in their squadron were ready for the pilots to carry out their missions.
"Winning the award didn't come without sacrifice," noted Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Tod Beights, HSM-77's quality assurance leading petty officer. "This award has to do a lot with continuing and maintaining our high level of readiness and to be able to deploy on a moments notice safely."
Sailors of HSM-77 were honored and proud to have won the award and be a representation for the Navy in a large scale as the leading maintenance command in the Department of Defense.
"It is a huge honor to be selected and win the award as the first Naval aviation command to ever win the award. It's awesome that HSM-77 continues to be the frontrunner for helicopter Naval aviation," said Beights.
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