1st Lt. Kyle R. Pokorney on Dec. 12, 2013, received The Air Medal 1st Oak Leaf Cluster for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.
The Mauston High School graduate is currently stationed in Milwaukee with the U.S. Air Force. He is the son of Frank Pokorney and Cindy Busch, both of Mauston. His paternal grandparents are Dennis and Bernadine Pokorney of Mauston; his maternal grandparents are Harold and Janice Seebecker of Mauston.
In awarding the medal, Lt. General John W. Hesterman III, commander USAFCENT of the USAF said:
“1st Lt. Kyle R. Pokorney distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in sustained aerial flight as KC-135R/T Pilot, 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, 379th Expeditionary Operations Group, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, from 1 November 2011 to 15 December 2011. During this period, Lt. Pokorney flew 20 combat air refueling missions, totaling over 120 hours and offloading over one million pounds of fuel to more than 50 receivers, extending United States and coalition combat aircraft over the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan in direct support of United States Central Command Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and NEW DAWN. His outstanding airmanship directly supported coalition ground forces in the stabilization and rebuilding efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and was critical in furthering America’s strategic goals in the region.
The professional ability and outstanding aerial accomplishments of Lt. Pokorney reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”
The Air Medal 1 Oak Leaf Cluster was established by presidential order May 11, 1942. The Secretary of War, in his request for the medal, stated “The Distinguished Flying Cross is available only for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight… It is desired not to cheapen the Distinguished Flying Cross by awarding it for achievement not bordering on the heroic. It is, however, important to reward personnel for meritorious service.”
The Air Medal was authorized by President Roosevelt. Authorization was announced in War Department Bulletin No. 25, dated 25 May 1942. In July 1942, the Office of The Quartermaster General forwarded a letter to 22 artists offering an opportunity to submit designs for consideration.
The design selected was submitted by Walker Hancock and approved by the Secretary of War on 31 December 1942. Walker Hancock had been inducted into the Army and assigned to Camp Livingston, Louisiana. He was ordered to temporary duty effective 16 November 1942 to G1 War Department to work on the medal. The Chief of Staff approved the ribbon design 26 August 1942.
Oak leaf clusters were initially used to denote subsequent awards of the Air Medal. But the number of additional awards was so great that oak leaf clusters did not fit on the ribbon.
As a result, the policy was changed in September 1968 to require the use of numbers to indicate subsequent awards of the Air Medal. (Source U.S. Army)