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Marine aviator recognized for exceptional courage and leadership

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An MV-22 instructor pilot received a Marine aviation level award Jan. 4, 2017 at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One Memorial Hall.

Maj. Casey D. Nelson was awarded the 2015 Daedalian Exceptional Pilot Award for extraordinary display of courage and leadership during humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations in earthquake-stricken Nepal 2015.

Nelson assembled and supervised a team to plan and coordinate a four plane MV-22B launch across 4,500 miles through Philippine, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, and Nepalese airspace. As a result of his efforts Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 delivered over 134,000 pounds of relief supplies, transported 300 people and conducted over 60 casualty evaluations.

The presenter of the award was retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Nicholas B. Kehoe, a former pilot during the Vietnam War who earned the Air Medal with 27 oak-leaf clusters during his career.

“Until you do it yourself, it is difficult to recognize or appreciate the chaos and desperation that is associated with these humanitarian disaster missions or the challenges of the flying in the environment that Casey and his team faced during 156 sorties,” said Kehoe.

Nelson was nominated by the Deputy Commandant of Marine Aviation for the award, he was the third MAWTS-1 instructor to receive the recognition. Nelson did not know he was receiving the award until his name was called during the ceremony.

“I am pretty speechless. I wouldn’t be here without the support of my family and the guys in my squadron,” said Nelson.

The Order of Daedalians was created in 1934 to honor the first American pilots to fly in combat. Its Exceptional Pilot Award, first awarded in 1999, is presented annually to a pilot selected by each military branch.

By Staff Sgt. Artur Shvartsberg,

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