The National Defense Industrial Association recognized one of Lukeâ€™s explosive ordnance disposal members for his contributions toward robotic systems at the Ground Robotics Conference in San Diego.
Staff Sgt. Michael Newton, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD team leader, was awarded the NDIA Outstanding United States Air Force EOD NCO of the Year.
Each year the NDIA recognizes one serviceâ€™s EOD technicians who contributed the most to advancing robotics. Air Force members only receive this award once every four years.
Newton was recommended by Headquarters Air Combat Command, Explosive Ordnance Disposal branch, for his work with the Air Force medium sized robot, formally known as the HD-1.
â€œNewton provided input to the manufacturer on ways to improve the MSR from an operatorâ€™s perspective,â€ said Lt. Col. Chad BonDurant, 56th CES commander. â€œAdditionally, he was one of a select few personnel to be deployed forward with the MSR to Iraq and used the robot in a combat environment.â€
Being only one of a handful of operators who used the platform in a combat zone, he was chosen to be part of a research and development team to make improvements.
â€œThe MSR is the newest generation of base support robots and Iâ€™m very proud to look at specific parts and be able to say that, was my idea,â€ Newton said. â€œIsnâ€™t it every boyâ€™s dream to blow stuff up for a living?â€
Robotic systems have saved numerous lives by helping to wipe away the threat of explosive devices encountered throughout combat operations.
â€œRobots save my EOD brothersâ€™ and sisters lives,â€ Newton said. â€œ I was given a unique opportunity to better the program, and I like to think anyone would have done the same.â€
Newton is a dedicated NCO that emulates the Air Force core values, according to BonDurant. â€œHe puts the mission first, and his Airmen are always his number one priority.â€