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CES Chief of Operations receives Bronze Star

Lt. Col. Nathan Nelson, 151st Civil Engineering Squadron, Utah Air National Guard, receives a Bronze Star medal from Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, the Utah National Guard Adjutant General, at a ceremony on November 7. Colonel Nelson received the award for his distinguished service as the Facility Engineering Team Officer-in-Charge in Iraq from November 2009 through May 2010.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt.  Kelly Collett)(RELEASED)

Lt. Col. Nathan Nelson, 151st Civil Engineering Squadron, Utah Air National Guard, receives a Bronze Star medal from Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, the Utah National Guard Adjutant General, at a ceremony on November 7. Colonel Nelson received the award for his distinguished service as the Facility Engineering Team Officer-in-Charge in Iraq from November 2009 through May 2010.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kelly Collett)(RELEASED)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Lt. Col. Nate V. Nelson, chief of operations with the 151st Civil Engineering Squadron, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal November 7 in a CES Commander's Call.

Colonel Nelson served at the Contingency Operations Base Adder in Iraq from November 2009 through May 2010 in support of the Army 34th Infantry Division and the 1st Infantry Division.

During his deployment, he led a 15-man team that assisted the Army with large projects while dealing with a decreasing level of forces.

"The big scope of what was going on there was that they were undergoing the drawdown of forces," he explained. "In closing these smaller bases, they were pulling the functions back to several main bases."

He also was involved with the launch of the first Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force (BEEF) Squadron which he explained was a new Air Force squadron that was created as a result of a command structure change that took them from direct operational control of the Army.

"We were a fairly small team, and we were scattered, but we had a lot of resources that we could draw on," he said. "If we learned of a safety problem at some remote base, we could draw on our network of skilled people, and within the next day I could have an electrical engineer on a helicopter heading out there to help them with their problem."
Overall, Colonel Nelson felt that the most significant thing his teams did was serve a lot of different units.

"We weren't just helping one particular unit," he said. "We were able to provide the Army with a lot of experience and knowledge that otherwise they would have had trouble with. Also, as a guard member, you usually train with your unit and have all the people that you know and work with, and you know their capabilities. Out here, most of us were just onesie-twosies pulled together from all these various guard bases."

With the decreasing amount of forces in the area, many base functions were consolidated to main bases, allowing bases to be handed back over to the Iraqis.

"It became a priority for the American general to clean up sites because we were getting ready to leave Iraq and he wanted to turn these bases back over to the Iraqis," he said.

For his efforts, Colonel Nelson was awarded the Bronze Star by Major General Brian Tarbet, the Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard, during the commander's call, in conjunction with two other medal awards.

LT. Col. Tony Faaborg, 151 CES commander, said the award is significant because it was awarded by the Army.

"It recognizes the contribution of our engineers in a joint environment," he said.

Overall, Colonel Nelson said he felt that it was better to look at the big picture.

"I feel that this award is manifest by a team of good people. The main thing to me is that we were able to branch out and provide a solid resource to the Army," said Colonel Nelson.