Tracy Lavinder awarded Bronze Star 2010.08.11

Written by David Green.

lavinder.cmyk.jpgA Fayette native aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) was honored with a Bronze Star July 31 for his work as an individual augmentee during a Global Support Assignment in Iraq from 2008-09.

Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (SW) Tracy Lavinder, assigned to Truman's Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD), received the award from Truman’s commanding officer, Capt. Joseph Clarkson, during a ceremony while deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Individual augmentee refers to a military member who is assigned to augment a unit to fill shortages, often with a different branch of service.

Since 1944, the Bronze Star has been awarded to members of the military for combat heroism and meritorious service.

“Chief Lavinder did great work over there with detainee operations, which is not easy work,” said Clarkson. “This award is a token of the nation’s appreciation for that effort and sacrifice.”

Lavinder said he was honored to receive the award, but gave credit to those who served with him in Iraq for his success there.

“I got this Bronze Star because I was lucky enough to have great junior personnel working for me over there,” Lavinder said. “They are the ones who took care of business day in and day out. Detainee ops is a tough job, and has a lot of importance in Iraq because it can determine how Iraqis and the rest of the world view American forces. We treated the detainees with dignity and respect, and it made a huge difference in that area of the country.”

While Lavinder was happy to have his hard work rewarded, the idea of the Bronze Star was something he was still trying to get used to.

“When I look at what people have won Bronze Stars for in the past, I have to be proud of mine, but compared to what they did, I am not sure I really deserve one,” he said. “I was just blessed to be working with great people. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get something like this.”

Lavinder was joined at the ceremony by three members of his team from Iraq who are currently serving on the Truman. Just as he credited them for his success, they didn’t hesitate to point out that his leadership was what made the difference.

“I am very proud to have served with him,” said Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Gerardo Torres, who received an Army Commendation Medal for his service. “I got very lucky to have a chance to have a leader like him. He had humility in all aspects of his work, from respect for us to respect for the detainees. I know we came back safe because of his leadership.”

Lavinder’s Bronze Star qualities are well known and respected on board Truman.

“He doesn't mind getting his hands dirty, and he leads by example,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Chris Lent, who has worked for Lavinder for more than a year in AIMD. “He always makes sure the job gets done, but he creates a positive work environment.”

Lavinder’s team served a nine-month tour in Iraq.

“Our job wasn’t easy there,” he said. “My team is the reason I have this award, and I really appreciate what they did for me.”

Lavinder will soon mark his 23rd year of service with the Navy and he intends to retire next year.

He is the son of Karen (and the late Jerry) Lavinder of Fayette.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016