28 TES Airman awarded Bronze Star

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andrew Leonhard
  • 53d Wing Public Affairs
Lieutenant Colonel Derek Hoffnung, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron, was awarded a Bronze Star for his exceptional actions while deployed to Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq from May to Nov. 2006.

While at Camp Victory he served as the commander of the 704th Expeditionary Support Squadron, Multi-National Corps-Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. He led a team in providing effective support to more than 70 Tactical Air Control Parties, Combat Weather Teams and Remote Weather Stations at 78 locations in Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I served with the best Soldiers and Airmen in the world and had the pleasure to lead my squadron in providing the best support possible to those Soldiers and Airmen who serve outside the wire," he said. "We formed great friendships - and I miss them all."

The colonel said the camaraderie with the Soldiers was one of the best parts of being deployed.

"We had a great rivalry with the Soldiers, all in good fun, but when it came to getting the job done, we worked together great. We learned a lot about how the other services execute the mission," he said. "I have the utmost respect for them and feel honored the Army would recognize my contributions with the Bronze Star."

The hardest part of being deployed was knowing his wife was going through a move and becoming inoculated into being a military spouse very quickly and by herself.

"My wife and I had only been married seven months when I deployed for six months. She'd never been exposed to a military life, yet she PCS'd alone from Langley to Eglin while I was gone," said the Southern California native, who now calls Florida home. "I think it was hardest on her - I'm very proud of her"