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Medical Group rakes in major awards

The 162nd Fighter Wing’s medical group will deploy to Jamaica in April in support of an Air Forces Southern humanitarian mission. These children and their families, living in a small rural village, will benefit from Air Guard medical expertise. (Courtesy photo)

The 162nd Fighter Wing’s medical group will deploy to Jamaica in April in support of an Air Forces Southern humanitarian mission. These children and their families, living in a small rural village, will benefit from Air Guard medical expertise. (Courtesy photo)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The National Guard Bureau announced the 162nd Medical Group as recipient of the 2008 Theodore C. Marrs Team Award in recognition for outstanding medical readiness, Feb. 6. 

The group was selected over 88 other Air National Guard units across the country. The award also singled out three key outstanding team members; Maj. Christine Rhodes, Master Sgt. Tracey Jorgensen and Master Sgt. Lance Bonlender. 

In addition to the team award, individual recognition went to Chief Master Sgt. George Silvas who received the "Air National Guard Outstanding Enlisted Health Services Manager of the Year" award. Also, Master Sgt. Billy Eickmeyer earned the "Air National Guard Outstanding Public Health Airman of the Year" award. 

Col. James Balserak, the medical group's commander currently deployed to Afghanistan, sent the team his congratulations. 

"Thanks once again for an outstanding and unprecedented performance. You folks stepped up and knocked it out of the park," he wrote. "Everyone should be very proud of this achievement and continue with the momentum. We also need to thank the wing staff and senior leadership for helping us get our compliances to the best they have ever been. Congratulations to Chief and Billy, and to everyone else, the best medical group in the Air National Guard." 

During a tumultuous and challenging year, the group's medical staff set ambitious goals and achieved them. 

They deployed as a group to Iraq to gain "real-world" experience, increase morale and sharpen critical skills. They improved customer service through more effective scheduling and execution of member physical health assessments. And in their crowning achievement, the group scored an "Outstanding" rating during a health services inspection. 

...And their mission keeps growing
Group plans humanitarian assistance to Jamaica

In the wake of solidifying their place as one of the top medical staff in the Air National Guard with the Theodore C. Marrs Team Award, the 162nd Medical Group will deploy to Jamaica to take on a humanitarian civic assistance mission, April 7-25. 

In support of an Air Forces Southern initiative, 32 medical group members and one security forces specialist will deploy to provide medical planning support and medical care to Jamaicans in three rural villages. 

Primary care physicians, nurses, technicians, optometrists, dentists and ancillary team members will work 10-to-12-hour days to bring much-needed treatment to people who normally don't have access to it. 

"We deployed in support of a contingency last year, so this year we want to round out our experience with a humanitarian mission," said Col. Michael Mangen, mission commander. "After having such a great year and being so fortunate, we really felt compelled to give back to people truly in need."