176 Wing squadron commander receives Bronze Star

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The commander of the 176th Civil Engineer Squadron was presented with one of the nation's highest individual military awards in a well-attended ceremony here Sept. 21.

Lt. Col. Ed Soto earned the Bronze Star Medal for his exceptionally distinguished performance while deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, where from February 2012 to August 2012 he served as the S5 Director for the 777th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force (Prime BEEF) Squadron.

"I'm just so humbled by this," Soto said. "This award is really a tribute to the team of engineers I served with who went out every day and did great things."

In Afghanistan, Soto oversaw the programming, design and over-the-horizon troop labor execution for 215 construction and life-health-safety requirements valued at more than $73 million; 116 designs supporting $43 million in awarded engineering contracts; and inspection of 75 Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) construction projects. He also oversaw the Southwest Expansion Area construction program at Camp Marmal -- United States Forces - Afghanistan's No. 1 construction priority in the theater -- valued at more than $92 million.

Soto was particularly recognized for his effectiveness at incorporating Air Force engineers in the training of Afghan Security Forces, preparing them to assume increasing responsibility and promoting effective long-term operations and maintenance of critical ANSF infrastructure.

"We did everything I could think of to push the mission forward," he said, "making sure we left no stone unturned as we worked toward a successful transfer of authority [to the Afghans]."

Soto was nominated for the award by Lt. Col. David Norton, commander of the 777 EPBS.
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