Airman earns Bronze Star for ‘reaching out’

Airman 1st Class Edward Drescher
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***A 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron senior NCO stationed at Vogelweh
was recently awarded the Bronze Star Medal in honor of his meritorious
service during a deployment to Talil Air Base, Iraq.

Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Dixon, 569th USFPS operations superintendent,
spent six months of 2004 as the operations superintendent of the 407th
Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Talil AB.

His improvments in base defense earned him this medal.

While downrange, Sergeant Dixon along with a small team from his
squadron, brainstormed a way to cover the vast base perimeter, which
spans more than 13 miles.

“I thought, how could we possibly defend all this real estate with a
limited number of security forces members?” said Sergeant Dixon.

The idea soon came to the Indiana native. Sergeant Dixon decided that
building a good rapport with the Bedouin families living on the barren
land around the base would allow them to work together to defend the

With this idea, Operation Reach Out was born.
Sergeant Dixon and other security forces members started making weekly
visits to the Bedouin families, bringing donated items such as food,
water, toys and candy. During these visits discussions would be held
about strange or troublesome things in the area. Security forces
members even devised a signal the families could use to notify patrols
of unusual activities.

Operation Reach Out not only enhanced base defense and force
protection. It also served as a cultural learning experience for the
troops involved. It allowed them to get a look into the lives of the
poor families and realize how much Americans really have.

“After that first mission, I thought how truly blessed I am,” said Sergeant Dixon.

On top of the program Sergeant Dixon coordinated the transfer of more
than $154,000 worth of medical supplies to three local hospitals. This
allowed the much needed treatment of more than 800,000 Iraqi people in
the surrounding area.

Sergeant Dixon was presented with the Bronze Star Medal during a ceremony Aug. 31 at Kapaun’s Kisling NCO Academy.

“The significance of the award didn’t hit me until my son and I were
discussing it later and he noticed it was above the Purple Heart,” said
Sergeant Dixon. “However, I really don’t feel anymore special than any
Airmen that go downrange in harms way. The real honor for me was when
all 45 troops I took to Iraq with me returned home safe and uninjured.”