Robins exchange officer awarded Sword of Honor

  • Published
  • By Lanorris Askew
  • Robins Public Affairs
When Flight Lieutenant Si Holden began his tour of duty with the 461st Air Control Wing in April 2009, he had high hopes, but no idea he would named the top Royal Air Force exchange officer and possess the hardware to prove it.

Holden, a 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron airborne intelligence officer and instructor on the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, was recently awarded the 2012 Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation RAF Sword of Honor.

The award, which was instituted in 2009 is presented annually to the RAF officer on exchange with the U.S. Air Force who has contributed the most in the previous year to relations between the two nations and their respective air forces.

Holden said he is dedicated to completing and taking the mission to the next level.

"I'm proud to serve as part of this exchange, and it was an honor to be recognized," he said. "I'm happy to have been able to use my expertise in shaping future capability and integrating the (JSTARS) platform into some of the broader mission."

According to the award citation, Holden's achievements during the past year are numerous. Highlights include his involvement in the JSTARS/SENTINEL Interoperability Program, understanding how the U.S. and the U.K. can share data and Standardized Data Agreement compatibility, and integrate both platforms.

He also deployed with the unit and was directly responsible for integrating specific in-theater U.K. forces, wider U.S. Fleet assets and specialized national collection requests into the weapon system to increase support and awareness for operational execution, the citation added.

Holden has been in the military for 24 years, including 14 as an enlisted member, so he has seen the service from both sides.

He said he has enjoyed his time in the exchange program.

"There are a number of exchange officers between the two governments," he said. "I applied for the program, had the right skills set and the right competencies and was selected to come over."

Although the normal tour is three years, Holden was extended to bring in more operational capability, and with the built-in optional 18-month extension, he is due to leave in September 2013.

"I hope the exchange continues to thrive in the future to enhance the special relationship between the two countries," he said.

The award was presented Oct. 4 during the 2012 Battle of Britain Gala Banquet in Washington D.C. The event was organized jointly by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation.

The ceremonial sword symbolically given during the ceremony currently hangs in the British Embassy in Washington D.C. It is an exact replica of those of a RAF officer.