MILITARY & VETERANS AFFAIRS
(10 February, 2009)
Vineland Resident Receives Military Intelligence Award
Vineland resident Tech. Sgt. Jamie L. DeCosta, an Intelligence Evaluator with the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, received the top Non-Commissioned Officer military intelligence award from First Air Force.
DeCosta received the Outstanding Air Reserve Component Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance NCO of the Year Award – one of six awards presented annually as part of the Air Force Command Annual Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Awards Program.
“These nominations reflect the dynamic nature of business for First Air Force units who remain fully engaged in Operation Noble Eagle and our Homeland Defense/Homeland Security mission,” stated Col. Gregory Y. Keetch, Director, Air Force North, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
DeCosta will now go on to compete against other Air Combat Command NCOs worldwide.
DeCosta recently returned from a 149-day deployment to Iraq. While there, she acted as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of a Mission Planning Cell, which worked closely with American and British Joint Tactical Air Controllers, taking the Army's daily ground troop missions and converting them to graphics for pilots.
The Army would supply information about which routes their convoys and ground troops would be taking, then send in Explosive Ordinance Disposal teams to clear the streets of improvised explosive devices before convoys and foot patrols went in. The Cell supported 170 house raids in search of insurgents, many of which were followed by live feeds from the unmanned aerial vehicles. Forty of the raids resulted in the capture of insurgents.
In addition, DeCosta and her team worked with base defense looking for patterns in the attacks. Based on that analysis, pilots were directed to perform fly-bys over target areas, which resulted in a 63 percent drop in attacks during a three-month period. Even better, there was a two week period without any base attacks at all.
On her days off, DeCosta volunteered at the Combat Surgical Hospital at Balad Air Base, doing blood pressure readings, feedings, cleanings, changing bed linens, and talking with injured Coalition, as well as Iraqi citizens and their families. Many had been injured by improvised explosive devices, convoy rollovers, gunfights, and one couple from a booby-trapped stack of firewood. Her contribution freed up doctors and medical staff to focus on critical care patients.