Ellsworth captain garners Jabara Award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anania Tekurio
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Every year, the prestigious Jabara Award is presented to a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate whose accomplishments demonstrate superior performance in fields directly involving aerospace vehicles.

This year, it was awarded to one of Ellsworth's own, Capt. Christopher McConnell, 34th Bomb Squadron wing weapons chief.

McConnell was selected to receive the award for his contributions during Operation Odyssey Dawn - the first time B-1 aircrews launched from a stateside base, struck targets and returned home.

McConnell was deployed with the 34th BS earlier this year when he received a phone call informing him of his recognition as the 2013 Jabara Award winner.

"It is a great honor to even be considered for the award, let alone receive it," said McConnell. "If you look at the list of individuals who've received the award in the past, a lot of them accomplished great things in aviation. It's truly a great honor."

The Col. James Jabara Award for Airmanship was established by the USAFA in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Jan. 5, 1967. Jabara was reported to have 15 kills and was the second leading Air Force ace during the Korean War.

McConnell's achievement distinguishes him as the first B-1 bomber aviator in history to win the award.

McConnell was quick to point out that he feels this award is the result of the entire 28th Bomb Wing working together to accomplish the mission.

Col. John Nichols, 609th Air Operations Center Combat Plans Division director, and at the time of McConnell's achievement, the 28th Operations Group commander, said the entire 28th OG is proud of McConnell.

"His achievement speaks volumes of his capabilities," Nichols said. "His actions highlighted the wing's abilities during Operation Odyssey Dawn."

Coming from a long line of Air Force aviators, McConnell's interest in aviation and the Air Force was greatly influenced by his family.

"Both my father and my grandfather served in the Air Force as pilots," McConnell said. "My grandfather flew combat sorties during World War II and my father during Vietnam."

It was earlier this year, while deployed in Southwest Asia with the 34th BS, that McConnell received a phone call informing him of his recognition as the 2013 Jabara Award winner.

McConnell added that he appreciates the support he continues to receive from his family, friends and fellow Airmen.

"The next step for me as a wing weapons operator and B-1 instructor is to help prepare and train the next generation of aviators out there," McConnell added. "They're the future of the Air Force and I look forward to working with them."