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Andersen Airman awarded Bronze Star Medal

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
A member of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron here was recently awarded the Bronze Star Medal for exceptionally meritorious service while deployed to a provincial reconstruction team in the Kapisa Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." This Chinese Proverb became something of a mantra for Capt. Brandon Rocker, 36 CES officer, during his deployment at Forward Operating Base Morales-Frazier from October 2010 to July 2011.

"The United States has spent nine years in Afghanistan building everything from roads to hospitals," Captain Rocker said. "We could spend another nine years building roads, hospitals, schools, courthouses, bridges and government facilities, but we would not have accomplished our mission without also mentoring. This is our goal. We want to teach the government of Kapisa how to properly manage, plan and construct projects."

Over the course of his deployment, Captain Rocker was responsible for a multi-million dollar construction program and the successful close-out of 14 projects aimed at fostering socioeconomic improvement, and bolstering the capacity and credibility of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

"The program consisted of constructing a 178 kilometer road, eight schools and two government facilities," the captain said. "Now, you're probably saying to yourself, 'sounds like an engineer, looks like an engineer, must be an engineer.' You would be correct; one of my jobs was to do just that. But my primary job was to teach."

To accomplish this task, members of the Kapisa engineering office devoted time and resources to the education of local construction contractors. Classes demonstrating the proper process for submitting a bid, managing projects and submitting weekly reports were made readily available to those wishing to learn.

"By mentoring contractors on better construction methods and explaining the reasoning behind our engineering standards, the local community ends up with a quality product and the contractor learns better building practices that can be implemented throughout future construction initiatives," Captain Rocker said.

When reports that one of his own had been awarded the Bronze Star Medal reached Lt. Col. Michael Staples, the 36 CES commander was proud, but not surprised.

"It is apparent that he is an excellent Airman and dedicated engineer," the colonel said. "His actions downrange only serve as further proof of the significant contributions he has made."

During his time in the desert, Captain Rocker learned how to be an effective engineer, but more importantly, he learned how to be an influential leader.

"While serving as an engineer in Kapisa I learned that managing a construction project is tough," he said. "I also learned that teaching others to manage, execute and plan their own construction initiatives is an even greater challenge. However, seeing the fruit of that labor makes the effort worth it."

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