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Meritorious Service Medal awarded to Flying Yankee troop

Tech. Sgt. Carey Malin, avionics specialist, 103rd Avionics Flight, salutes Maj. Wayne B. Ferris, maintenance squadron commander, 103rd Maintenance Squadron, after receiving her Meritorious Service Medal during a ceremony on base April 5th, 2009.  Malin was awarded the medal for her contributions to the honor guard.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Erin McNamara)

Tech. Sgt. Carey Malin, avionics specialist, 103rd Avionics Flight, salutes Maj. Wayne B. Ferris, maintenance squadron commander, 103rd Maintenance Squadron, after receiving her Meritorious Service Medal during a ceremony on base April 5th, 2009. Malin was awarded the medal for her contributions to the honor guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Erin McNamara)

Tech. Sgt. Carey Malin, avionics specialist, 103rd Avionics Flight, receives a congratulatory handshake and applause after receiving the Meritorious Service Medal during a ceremony on base at the avionics work shop April 5, 2009. Malin received the medal for her service and contributions to the base honor guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Erin McNamara)

Tech. Sgt. Carey Malin, avionics specialist, 103rd Avionics Flight, receives a congratulatory handshake and applause after receiving the Meritorious Service Medal during a ceremony on base at the avionics work shop April 5, 2009. Malin received the medal for her service and contributions to the base honor guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Erin McNamara)

BRADLEY ANG BASE--East Granby, Conn. -- The Meritorious Service Medal was awarded to Tech. Sgt. Carey Malin, avionics specialist, 103rd Avionics Flight during a ceremony on base April 5, 2009. Malin received the honor for her contributions to the base honor guard.
     "It was very humbling; I think I was instantly blushing. The MSM is a very, very big award and it really meant a lot to me," said Malin. You have to put one name and attach it to the medal, but there is no way I could have been even submitted without the hard work of everyone else on the honor guard, she said.
     The award was presented by her commander, Maj. Wayne B. Ferris, maintenance squadron commander, 103rd Maintenance Squadron. Being a former officer in charge of the honor guard, he knows first hand the dedication and professionalism it takes to run the honor guard program.
     "She shaped and formed the team and learned to adapt to our continuously changing environment. She transformed the members and made them understand the team concept in theory and demonstrated it daily in reality and practice," Ferris said.
     Malin has taken the honor guard from its humble beginnings as a four-person team where, on average, they would do one detail a month, to its peak of 20 people strong with full funeral detail capabilities. Currently, the honor guard will break 400 funerals this year numbering 30 to 40 a month, tasking the honor guard as many as six to seven days a week.
     "Today, this honor guard is one of the most well respected HG programs in the country. I believe we're now the second or third busiest funeral program in the country, I think only behind Maryland. It is all a result of her hard work, her dedication, her sense of getting the mission done," said Capt. Martin Kelly, physician's assistant, 103rd Medical Group, who was formerly an honor guard officer in charge.
     When Malin first took over the honor guard, it was comprised of a handful of people and they practiced in the medical group, dining hall or other offices after hours on drill weekend, said Staff Sgt. Connor Thomas, honor guard non-commissioned officer in charge, 103rd Base Honor Guard.
     Each member had one uniform and the team had just enough flags and rifles they needed to perform details they received. During her time as head of the honor guard, Malin acquired a section in building 14 specifically for the honor guard to use as their own. She also utilized programs offered by the National Guard Bureau to assist with the honor guard's budget. Malin was able to build an inventory of uniforms and every other possible supply item she could think of. In addition to procuring supplies and acquiring the training area the team needed, she ensured every team member received the proper training by sending them down to Bolling AFB for a two-week in-residence course to train with the Air Force Honor Guard.
     Over the course of her involvement with the honor guard, Malin has brought change for the better. Through training, equipment and drive to honor those who serve, she has built a palpable organization to show that the Conn. Air Guard is serious about its military honors.
     "Nobody comes here saying I did it for the recognition or the medals, or the paycheck. We are a 100 percent volunteer organization," said Malin.
     This past year was Malin's last in the honor guard, after almost a decade of dedication to rendering military honors.
     She left the honor guard and it is not a bad thing. After so many years you get burnt out. It's what she left behind that's really great, said Ferris.
     "It was a big loss to the team," said Thomas. "Tech. Sgt. Malin was a great ceremonial guardsman, and a tremendous wealth of knowledge as far as the rules and regulations that run the honor guard. If it weren't for Tech. Sgt. Malin pushing to get the team the things we need to train, and be able to supply new members, we wouldn't have the assets we have today."
     The biggest part I take with me, at least the most important, is why we raise our right hand to join the armed forces, said Malin. "It's about what that flag and uniform stand for--it's such a big honor to be a part of that," she said.
     On February 5th, 1968 at the Tri-Department Conference, an idea for a third meritorious award came to discussion. This award would fill a need to properly recognize non-combat achievement or service comparable to the Bronze Star. The Legion of Merit was being used more to reward this type of service or achievement above the Commendation Medal, but in doing so was watering down the Legion of Merit's prestige. A committee was formed and, after deliberation, the Meritorious Service Medal was born January 16th, 1969 under Executive Order No. 11448 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
     The Meritorious Service Medal is still awarded within the capacity of non-combat meritorious achievement or service to the United States.