Gem of the Day 4:12: Distinguished Veterans Awarded Medals

Two distinguished veterans were presented medals during a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Bill Flores (R-Texas) on Wednesday evening. Retired Air Force Colonel Robert L. Hensz was awarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Army Specialist Joshua Randall Hamm was awarded the Purple Heart.

“The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Air Force Colonel Hensz and Army Specialist Hamm each reflect great credit on themselves and the Armed Forces. These men displayed commitment, perseverance and selflessness during their courageous acts which have merited these awards,” said Congressman Flores. “I am honored to have the opportunity to present these medals to such brave men who have helped protect our country and our freedom.“

Retired United States Air Force Colonel Robert L. Hensz was awarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism while participating in an aerial flight as a B-47 aircraft commander. On September 4, 1954, Col. Hensz, then Captain Hensz, was the aircraft commander of a B-47 which was ferrying a nuclear weapon to Loring Air Force Base, Maine. During the flight the aircraft encountered severe rain and thunderstorms which resulted in the loss of the radar and primary N-1 compass. As they continued to fly through the rain and thunderstorms their position became uncertain due to the extreme static on the radio. Additionally they encountered total darkness and low fuel. Captain Hensz made the decision to descend to Loring Air Force Base using only a standby compass. He expertly flew the aircraft toward the assumed position of Loring Air Force Base descending through rain and thunderstorms. As the aircraft broke out from the overcast at 2000 feet and the runway was sighted in the distance, he landed the aircraft and taxied in with little fuel remaining. Captain Hensz’ coolness under pressure and superior aviation abilities directly resulted in saving the aircraft, crew and nuclear weapon while protecting Loring Air Force Base and the surrounding community.

United States Army Specialist Joshua Randall Hamm was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in Operation Enduring Freedom. Specialist Hamm was at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, when a suicide bomber detonated outside the main gate, only 15 meters away from where he was located. He was thrown backwards, and briefly knocked unconscious. Once he got up, he ran toward the scene of the explosion to render first aid to the wounded. After all the other wounded had been evacuated he was instructed to board the ambulance and go to the hospital to be treated for his wounds.

“As a Member of Congress, I have the resources to assist constituents dealing with federal agencies. These men sought out assistance from my office to aid them in the process of obtaining the medals which they have so valiantly earned,” said Congressman Flores. “My office takes pride in the opportunity to assist veterans, whether it is with educational or medical benefits, help seeking medals or contacting Veterans Affairs on their behalf.”

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