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CHIPS Articles: NIOC Colorado Sailors Welcome Medal of Honor Recipients

NIOC Colorado Sailors Welcome Medal of Honor Recipients
By Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Hartland, Navy Information Operations Command Colorado - April 20, 2017
DENVER (NNS) – Sailors assigned to Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Colorado/Task Force 1080 joined other service members to render honors for two Medal of Honor recipients at Denver International Airport April 3.

Six Sailors, 12 Soldiers and one Coast Guardsman gathered at the airport to greet retired Navy Capt. Thomas Kelley and retired Sgt. Major Robert Patterson.

Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class David Zumwalt, one of the Sailors assigned to NIOC Colorado/Task Force 1080 who participated in the event, said he wanted to give the recipients the warm welcome they deserve for their bravery.

"Most of these heroes did not receive a proper ‘welcome home’ when returning from Vietnam. The Sailors and Soldiers are here to show how grateful we are for their sacrifice," said Zumwalt.

The two Medal of Honor recipients are being hosted by the Pueblo Home of Heroes to prepare for the 2017 Medal of Honor Convention Sept. 12-16, which is expected to host more than 40 Medal of Honor recipients. Pueblo, Colo. is the hometown of four Medal of Honor recipients.

Paulette Stuart, committee chair of Pueblo Congressional Medal of Honor Society, said the recipients bring military service into the public light through their heroic actions.

“The Medal of Honor is recognized around the world as a symbol of heroism and provides an example to everyone in uniform the service and sacrifice that it represents,” Stuart said. “It is a source of pride for the city of Pueblo to honor these men. By bringing more attention to these heroes, we hope to honor their sacrifice through awareness of the significance of military service.”

Sgt. Jennifer Huffman said Patterson set an example, as a Soldier and non-commissioned officer, for all military services to follow.

“Being able to welcome Command Sgt. Maj. Patterson as a Medal of Honor recipient was extremely important because he made a significant sacrifice and made it out alive,” said Huffman. “It was crucial for us to be here to honor his service; and while not everyone will see the type of action he did while serving in Vietnam, we all have a lot to learn from the way he conducted himself in the line of duty with his Soldiers.”

Patterson was awarded the Medal of Honor on Oct. 10, 1969 for actions during the Vietnam War. As a staff sergeant in the Army, he single-handedly destroyed five enemy bunkers, killed eight enemy soldiers, and captured seven weapons to protect his platoon from automatic weapon and propelled grenade fire. He enlisted in the Army in 1966 and retired in 1991 at the rank of command sergeant major.

President Richard Nixon awarded Kelley the Medal of Honor on May 14, 1970, for actions during the Vietnam War. As a lieutenant in the Navy, he led a river assault boat mission to extract a U.S. Army infantry company. Under duress during the extraction, he disregarded his own safety and positioned his craft in the path of an incoming rocket. He continued to protect his men until they could get to safety, and then ordered medical assistance for himself.

“Capt. Kelley was put in a position that is uncommon for many military members to find themselves in today. The amount of courage it took to put his life at risk to save others without hesitation is very inspirational to all of us who serve and emphasizes Kelley’s true character,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Nathan Walker, assigned to NIOC Colorado/Task Force 1080.

Kelley enlisted in the Navy in 1960 and retired in 1990 at the rank of captain. Kelley now serves as the president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society after 30 years of naval service.

"It is a privilege to welcome the recipients and witness how moved the large groups of spectators were at the airport,” said Walker. “We were given a unique opportunity to share stories and really connect with these men who went above and beyond in intense situations."

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the armed services of the United States. The award is generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.

NIOC Colorado/CTF 1080 is a subordinate command of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet. Based at Buckley Air Force Base, its mission is to provide ready, trained and motivated Information Warfare Officers, Cryptologic Enlisted Personnel, and expertise to support fleet, combat forces, and national intelligence operations requirements worldwide.

U.S. Fleet Cyber Command serves as the Navy component command to U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Cyber Command, and the Navy’s Service Cryptologic Component commander under the National Security Agency/Central Security Service. Fleet Cyber Command also reports directly to the Chief of Naval Operations as an Echelon II command.

U.S. 10th Fleet is the operational arm of Fleet Cyber Command and executes its mission through a task force structure similar to other warfare commanders. In this role, C10F provides operational direction through its Maritime Operations Center located at Fort George Meade, Maryland, executing command and control over assigned forces in support of Navy or joint missions in cyber/networks, information operations, electronic warfare, cryptologic/signals intelligence and space.

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