Chaplain Earns Distinguished Air Force Award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Madeline Herzog
  • 435th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The 435th Air Expeditionary Wing and the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing chaplain, Chaplain (Maj.) Mark Hunsinger, earned the 2019 Military Chaplains Association Distinguished Service Award while serving at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

This award is presented to one chaplain from each branch of service every year for exemplifying the highest standards of the military and the Chaplain Corps.

“The award itself is a tremendous blessing from the Lord, and I am humbled and extremely thankful to have been selected,” said Hunsinger. “The number one priority for both wings I support is taking care of Airmen and families.”

Hunsinger, the first U.S. Air Force chaplain to fill the role as wing chaplain for both the 435th AEW and the 435th AGOW, led a group of six religious support teams to provide 678 chapel programs, 6.5 thousand squadron-focused warrior care hours, and counseled 760 Airmen by conducting 106 site visits to Airmen stationed at 15 geographically separated units across Europe and Africa.

“Chaplain Hunsinger’s sphere of impact across Europe and Africa is unique in our Chaplain Corps,” said Chaplain (Col.) Trent C. Davis, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa command chaplain. “His dedication to never leave an Airman behind and to seek out innovative solutions to ensure access and care for every Airman is what truly sets him apart.”

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Gaspar Cortez, 48th Fighter Wing broadcast journalist, said he first met Hunsinger on his deployment to the 435th AEW in 2019 where they worked in the same office together. He said that being around him and seeing his focus when it comes to tasks is motivating.

“I’ve learned how to not only help myself, but how to help others through adversity,” said Cortez. “Watching how he conducts himself and controls his situation taught me and made me realize how to better hold my tongue and control my actions in certain situations.”

Retired Chaplain (Col.) Scott Adams, a friend and Airman that worked alongside Hunsinger for years, said he was overjoyed and not at all surprised when hearing about Hunsinger’s achievement.

“This award recognizes his “care” for the warriors around him, each of whom sees that care in his eyes and actions, and hears it in his voice,” said Adams.

Hunsinger said he is tremendously humbled, and his future goal is to become the wing chaplain for a traditional large chapel team at a high operational tempo base.

“I love what I get to do every day, supporting Airmen and their families while serving my God and Savior,” said Hunsinger. “It is a privilege I pray I never take for granted.”