Capt. Phillip A. Wiktor, a UH-1Y Huey pilot and the hazardous materials officer-in-charge with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 and a Rochester, Minn., native, received the 2011 Marine Corps Ground Safety Officer of the Year Award at the 26th Executive Force Preservation Board in Washington, D.C., March 28.
Wiktor was awarded for his efforts while filling the collateral-duty role of safety officer, ensuring the squadron's Marines maintained proper safety precautions both off-duty and in the work center.
"Capt. Wiktor would constantly work with supervisors, ensuring safety procedures were stressed alongside on-duty maintenance efforts and off duty time," said Master Sgt. Patrick O. Burgess, the 900 division chief with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12. "He basically empowered everyone to be safety observers."
Wiktor's command submitted his name to the award committee during the fall of 2011 for recognizing problems such as Marines involved in alcohol related incidents, laser and radiation protection and wearing proper protective equipment.
Wiktor also built the squadron's ground safety binder that worked as a checklist for each Marine. He then added documentation that showed safety's constant involvement in each section, explained Burgess.
Although Wiktor admits to working toward a safe environment, he views the award as a unit effort.
"I was kind of surprised to get the award," said Wiktor. "I was told my name was submitted but this was more of a squadron and team effort. Everyone from the [commanding officer] to junior Marines played a huge part in this. Whether it be [noncommissioned officers] making sure their fellow Marines have a ride when they drink, or just being able to have someone to talk to, communication was the key part. Realistically, it should be an award for the command; I just happened to be the guy steering everything in the right direction."
While it may be a squadron level effort, Wiktor played a key role in creating the ground safety standards of HMLA-169.
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