Selfridge Airman Earns Bronze Star

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
An aircrew flight equipment specialist with the 107th Fighter Squadron has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for her service in Iraq.

Technical Sgt. Supapon Lawson was awarded the medal for exceptionally meritorious service as an aircrew life support technician while serving at an undisclosed location in Iraq. Lawson served for almost two straight years on the deployment.

"I worked with awesome people," Lawson said. "I know that I am a very small piece of the puzzle, but I felt like I was able to contribute to something much bigger."

Initially deployed for two months, Lawson volunteered for several tour extensions, explaining that as a single person, she felt that she was able to serve in a place to perhaps allow an Airman with a family stay closer to home.

Lawson worked as the noncommissioned officer in charge of a joint unit, providing life support equipment to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance air crews, according to her citation. Lawson had Army, Navy, Air Force and civilian personnel working in her section. Adding testament to the joint nature of her deployment, the Bronze Star citation is signed by an Army general and the secretary of the Army.

"I wasn't surprised to see Supa excel during her deployment," said Chief Master Sgt. Aaron Lynch, superintendent of the Life Support section for the 107th at Selfridge. "She's a natural leader and has the kind of positive attitude a person needs to be able to excel in that type of environment. She is exactly the kind of young NCO that the Air Force needs to meet the challenges of today."

Lawson began her service as a member of the Washington state Air National Guard. She moved to Michigan in late 2005 and transferred into the 127th Wing at Selfridge. She deployed to Iraq in March 2009 and returned in January 2011. Since her return to the U.S., she has moved to Puerto Rico and plans to eventually transfer to the Air National Guard there. In total, she has more than 12 years of service wearing Air Force blue.

She said after such a lengthy deployment, she found adjusting to "all the little stuff" the hardest part of returning to civilian life.

"It sounds crazy, maybe, but just remembering where do I get gas, where do I go to get groceries," she said. "I worked almost every single day I was deployed, so managing my downtime is a new experience. I get to decide when I eat and where I eat."

Many who return from even much shorter deployments often find driving on the expressway a new challenge.

"I never drove faster than 20 miles per hour while deployed - so doing 70 on the expressway, that takes a little getting used to," she said.

Lawson was formally presented with her medal during a brief ceremony on Sunday, June 5, at the Fighter Squadron at Selfridge.

The Bronze Star Medal was first awarded toward the end of World War II. It is awarded for "heroic or meritorious achievement or service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy."