This year's recipient of the Navy Operational Support "BUC Joel E. Baldwin Memorial Award" is SW1 Edward Harmon.
Steelworker 1st Class, Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist, Edward Harmon was destined to become a Navy Seabee, as his Grandfather served in the South Pacific as a Naval Aviator aboard PBY Catalina flying boats. SW1 Harmon knew who the Seabees were and what they did by the time he was in elementary school. He was born on 16 July 1969 at Bitburg Air Force Base, Rheinland Phalz West Germany while his Father was flying F-4 Phantoms during the Cold War. One might assume with aviation in his families' blood he may have taken that route, but out of high school, he took a different route to get airborne...through competitive skateboarding and generally bumming around with restaurant and construction work.
Prior to his service in the Navy, SW1 graduated Tulsa Welding School and raised a family of twin boys and two daughters. Then two planes flew into the twin towers in New York City and that event compelled Petty Officer Harmon to join the Seabees as he thought it may be the best fit for his ability to contribute. By the time he enlisted in the Navy Reserve and was sufficiently trained, the War in Afghanistan and Iraq was in full swing and he volunteered to mobilize and deploy with NMCB 17 in support of the US Marine Expeditionary Force to Iraq in 2008 where he conducted 108 missions outside the wire, installing steel grates on 266 culverts running under the main and alternate supply routes between Fallujah and Al Asad, Iraq.
Following Iraq, SW1 mobilized and deployed three additional times. First to Bahrain, where his expertise in general construction and use of tools paid great dividends running a full shop for Public Works on a base supporting F-18 and Harrier air operations against ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Next, he deployed to Djibouti, where he supervised a crew of 22 personnel in the construction of a health care clinic in a poor, extremely remote location fighting 130 plus degree temperatures in a very austere environment. His last deployment had him supporting Special operations in a location he is unable to disclose. His duty there was the most rewarding and the most challenging. Operating independently, he brought in the food and fuel, made sure air conditioners worked, showers drained, and insured fighting positions were free of debris and stocked with ammo.
Currently, SW1 Harmon has mobilization orders for a fifth deployment to a mountainous region in Central Asia. When people thank SW1 for his service he responds, "my pleasure!" SW1 has passed on his love of country and service to his sons as well. Eli Harmon (son) graduated with the United States Air Force Academy and is a commissioned officer with the USAF and Levi (son) graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and is a commissioned officer with the United States Army.