Capt. Mark Weber, one of the seven airmen killed earlier this month in a helicopter crash in western Iraq, was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal during a memorial service last week.
Weber’s March 21 memorial service at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia was attended by more than 1,000 airmen, family and friends, Air Combat Command said in a March 22 release.
Weber, a 29-year-old combat rescue officer from the 38th Rescue Squadron, and six other airmen died March 15 in an HH-60G Pave Hawk crash in Anbar Province, Iraq. He was originally from Bartonville, Texas.
At the memorial service, Weber’s fellow airmen praised him as an exceptional leader.
“Capt. Weber was forever focused on the men under his command,” said a pararescueman from the 38th, identified in the release only as Senior Airman Daniel. “In the pool, he would help the last team member across before surfacing for his own breath. On a ruck, I watched him carry a teammate whose body had quit. When the team screwed up, it was Capt. Weber who shouldered the responsibility.”
“I never saw him tired, and I never saw him afraid,” Senior Airman Daniel continued. “Not because he didn’t feel pain or experience fear, but he placed his duty before his own personal desires and comforts.”
Weber’s first job after graduating from the Air Force Academy in 2011 was as a contracting officer, the release said.
But he felt an urge to do more, and began training to become a CRO, and direct combatant command and control of combat search-and-rescue operations. Weber also planned, managed, and executed CSAR operations, the release said.
“It’s apparent to everyone that you cannot replace someone of the caliber of Mark Weber,” Maj. Jason Egger, commander of the 38th, said at the service. “Instead, it is now left to us to carry his memory forward and pay tribute to him and live up to his truly exceptional example.
Weber was on his first deployment when he died. He was augmenting the 308th Rescue Squadron from Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.
Another CRO from the 38th, identified only as Capt. Ryan, promised to carry on their work saving lives.
“I would like to thank Mark for all that he has taught me in the past four years,” said Ryan, a close personal friend of Weber. “Thank you for your hard work and dedication. I’m sorry it was you this time. We will do everything we can to continue with the mission of saving lives, I promise you that.”
Pararescuemen from the 347th and 563rd Rescue Groups conducted memorial pushups after the ceremony to pay tribute to Weber.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.