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NEWS | March 22, 2013

479th FTG Airman wins AETC Medical Technician of the Year Award

By Capt. Ashley Walker 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Air Education and Training Command officials recently named Staff Sgt. Arturo Garcia, 479th Flying Training Group medical technician, as the 2012 AETC Olson-Wegner Aerospace Medical Technician of the Year.

Garcia was the first medical technician assigned to the 479th FTG when combat systems officer training consolidated to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., in 2009. The 479th FTG is the Air Force's single source training pipeline for CSOs, producing more than 300 graduates annually.

Garcia was tasked to set up an Air Force aerospace medicine program in a Navy clinic by May 2010 when the first CSO class started training, Garcia was the Air Force's only medical liaison to Navy flight surgeons supporting the group.

"His herculean efforts ensured that the CSO training pipeline was never without medical support," Capt. Eugen Stancut, 479th FTG flight surgeon and AETC's 2011 Flight Surgeon of the Year, said.

"There was a steep learning curve when I first showed up, but it has been very rewarding," Garcia said. "We are constantly adjusting and revamping the process to make it better."

He and only a few other Air Force medical personnel had to overcome being the only ones responsible for medical requirements and administrative paperwork for all Airmen in the 479th FTG. Not only do they support more than 900 479th FTG members, they also support four other geographically separated units in the local area.

With the support of Hurlburt Field, Fla., the unit's individual medical readiness compliance ended up being no. 1 in AETC.

One month after pinning on the rank of staff sergeant, Garcia was asked to be the NCO in charge of flight medicine for the Naval Aviation department at NAS Pensacola.
"It was different being in charge of naval corpsmen instead of Airmen," Garcia said. "We were able to find common ground and eventually streamline flight physical processes, saving three hours per patient, per flight physical."

This job requires flexibility and resiliency at NAS Pensacola, he said. Although it sounds cliché to say, flexibility is truly the key to airpower.

"I've had the opportunity to work closely with Garcia for the past three years and I have found him to be an outstanding aerospace technician with a strong work ethic and level of maturity far beyond his years of service," Stancut said. "He is a well-respected member of the group and is a critical component to the unit's success."

Garcia will go on to compete for the Society of USAF Flight Surgeon's Aerospace Medicine Technician of the Year.