Bronze Star service, a family heritage> Air Force Reserve Command> Featured article


The greatest resource within the Air Force Reserve is its Airmen and we highlight an incredible 44th Fighter Group Reserve Citizen Airman ** with an incredible story.

44th FG Maintenance Squadron Capt.Elizabeth L. Van Patten, who earlier this year received the Bronze Star medal in support of OPERATION FREEDOM’S SENTINEL as director of operations for 451 Squadron Air Expeditionary, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan in 2020. Her ability to lead in austere and high-risk environments is a testament to her lifelong experience.

In 2010, Van Patten was a Master Sgt at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Marietta Ga., Before earning his commission from the Officer Training School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., In 2014. The captain is arrived at 44 FG, when they were stationed at Tyndall AFB, Fla., in August 2018. She was one of the members present when Hurricane Michael hit Tyndall and the group had to recover, operate and eventually move to 89 miles west to its present location, Eglin AFB, Florida.

Still, his ability, service, and dedication to duty in 2020 should come as no surprise.

When Van Patten received the oath of office as a second lieutenant on May 1, 2014, it was given by his father, COL (ret’d) James G. Van Patten Jr., US Army Airborne Ranger, who is another recipient of the Bronze Star. Coincidentally, Captain Van Patten’s grandfather Colonel (ret’d) James G. Van Patten Sr., US Air Force bomber pilot and maintenance officer, also received the Bronze Star.

“I am the third generation of Van Pattens to receive the Bronze Star,” she said. “[This is] one of the awards that I will work on for the rest of my career to live up to!

Captain Van Patten concluded by saying that she cannot do what she does in the Air Force Reserve without the support of her mother and father (Ellie and Jerry).

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The description:

A circumscribed bronze star 1 ½ inches in diameter. In the center of it is a superimposed bronze star 3/16 inch in diameter, with the center line of all rays of the two stars coinciding. The reverse bears the inscription “HEROIC OR MERITORIOUS ACHIEVEMENT” and a space for the name of the recipient to be engraved. The star is suspended from the ribbon by a rectangular metal loop with rounded corners.

a. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to anyone who, while serving in any capacity in or with the United States Army after December 6, 1941, has distinguished himself by achievement or service heroic or meritorious, not involving participation in aerial flight, while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or by serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

b. Awards may be given for acts of heroism, performed under the circumstances described above, which are of a lesser degree than that required for the award of the Silver Star.

vs. Prizes may be awarded to recognize acts of merit or meritorious service. The achievement or service required while being of a lesser degree than that required for the award of the Legion of Merit must nevertheless have been meritorious and accomplished with distinction.

** The 44 FG is a classic associate unit of the 301st Fighter Wing.

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