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Major Tomaseski reflects on meaning of third Bronze Star earned after combat zone EOD duty

Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware ANG, with his parents, William and Cathy Tomaseski, after Maj. Tomaseski received the Bronze Star medal at a ceremony held at 166th AW HQ, New Castle ANG Base, New Castle, Del. on June 20, 2014. Tomaseski distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. This is the third Bronze Star medal awarded to Tomaseski. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey)

Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware ANG, with his parents, William and Cathy Tomaseski, after Maj. Tomaseski received the Bronze Star medal at a ceremony held at 166th AW HQ, New Castle ANG Base, New Castle, Del. on June 20, 2014. Tomaseski distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. This is the third Bronze Star medal awarded to Tomaseski. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey)

Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware ANG, with his fiancé, Christie Williams, his son, Xander, and stepson, Justin, after Tomaseski received the Bronze Star medal at a ceremony held at 166th AW HQ, New Castle ANG Base, New Castle, Del. on June 20, 2014. Tomaseski distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. This is the third Bronze Star medal awarded to Tomaseski. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey)

Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware ANG, with his fiancé, Christie Williams, his son, Xander, and stepson, Justin, after Tomaseski received the Bronze Star medal at a ceremony held at 166th AW HQ, New Castle ANG Base, New Castle, Del. on June 20, 2014. Tomaseski distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. This is the third Bronze Star medal awarded to Tomaseski. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey)

Air Force Brig. Gen. Carol Timmons, assistant adjutant general for air, Delaware National Guard, pins the Bronze Star medal on Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware Air National Guard, at a ceremony held at 166th AW HQ, New Castle ANG Base, New Castle, Del. on June 20, 2014. Tomaseski distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. This is the third Bronze Star medal awarded to Tomaseski.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey)

Air Force Brig. Gen. Carol Timmons, assistant adjutant general for air, Delaware National Guard, pins the Bronze Star medal on Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware Air National Guard, at a ceremony held at 166th AW HQ, New Castle ANG Base, New Castle, Del. on June 20, 2014. Tomaseski distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. This is the third Bronze Star medal awarded to Tomaseski. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey)

Air Force Brig. Gen. Carol Timmons, assistant adjutant general for air, Delaware National Guard, with Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware Air National Guard, after Tomaseski received the Bronze Star medal at a ceremony held at 166th AW HQ, New Castle ANG Base, New Castle, Del. on June 20, 2014. Tomaseski distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. This is the third Bronze Star medal awarded to Tomaseski.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey)

Air Force Brig. Gen. Carol Timmons, assistant adjutant general for air, Delaware National Guard, with Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware Air National Guard, after Tomaseski received the Bronze Star medal at a ceremony held at 166th AW HQ, New Castle ANG Base, New Castle, Del. on June 20, 2014. Tomaseski distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. This is the third Bronze Star medal awarded to Tomaseski. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey)

Members of the Delaware Air National Guard and family members of Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware ANG, applaud after Tomaseski received the Bronze Star medal at a ceremony held at 166th AW HQ, New Castle ANG Base, New Castle, Del. on June 20, 2014. Tomaseski distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. This is the third Bronze Star medal awarded to Tomaseski. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey)

Members of the Delaware Air National Guard and family members of Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware ANG, applaud after Tomaseski received the Bronze Star medal at a ceremony held at 166th AW HQ, New Castle ANG Base, New Castle, Del. on June 20, 2014. Tomaseski distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. This is the third Bronze Star medal awarded to Tomaseski. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey)

NEW CASTLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Delaware -- On June 20 U.S. Air Force Maj. Devin Tomaseski, base civil engineer, 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware Air National Guard, was presented with the Bronze Star Medal by U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Carol Timmons, assistant adjutant general, air, Delaware National Guard, at a ceremony conducted at wing headquarters.

Tomaseski received the medal after distinguishing himself by exceptionally meritorious service while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as the executive officer of Joint Task Force Paladin Southwest, Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, from Dec. 8, 2011 to June 1, 2012. Maj. Tomaseski is an EOD-qualified civil engineer with over 15 years of service in the active duty Air Force and the Air National Guard. He has deployed six times in direct support of Operations Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

This is the third Bronze Star Medal awarded to Tomaseski, a resident of Middletown, Del. His first two medals were awarded after his tours in Iraq in 2006 and again in 2007-2008, each in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom..

Attending the June 20 ceremony were Tomaseski's parents, William and Cathy Tomaseski, along with his fiancé, Christie Williams, his son, Xander, and stepson, Justin.

A question and answer interview with Tomaseski follows:

1. What is your reaction to being awarded the Bronze Star? What does it mean to you?

"Receiving the Bronze Star was an honor. What made the event even better is that I was able to share it with my family. However, the moment was bittersweet, remembering all of the outstanding men and women that I have served with over the past 16 years, some of them having paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country."

2. Please describe your job with the explosive ordnance disposal team.

"For my first three deployments with Explosive Ordnance Disposal, I was assigned as the EOD Flight Commander.

"For those deployments, my primary job was making sure I brought each and every one of my team members home safely (for the first deployment, I was responsible for 12 personnel, for the second and third, approximately 34 personnel).

"Our mission was to provide the Battle Space Commander EOD teams to disarm road side bombs threatening Coalition Forces and the civilian populace.

"For this last deployment, my role was slightly different as I was the Executive Officer for the EOD Task Force. While my role of keeping my teams safe was still paramount, I had oversight on a much larger scale, over 200 Airman, Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and civilians responsible for Counter Improvised Explosive Device initiatives in Southwest and Western Afghanistan."

3. It sounds like one of the most challenging and dangerous jobs there are. What's the most difficult part, and how do you handle that stress and pressure?

"The most difficult part of the job is seeing the effects of the road side bombs that go undetected. When they explode, the consequences are catastrophic. Personally, I rely heavily on my family and my fellow teammates."

4. Can you describe the rewards of the job - when you know you've helped make conditions safer for your fellow Airmen and Soldiers?

"When we receive the call for a suspicious item, the entire team responding puts on their game face. From the moment we leave the base until we arrive on scene, tension is high with everyone on alert. Once we disarm the device and clear the scene, there is instant gratification; whether it is the appreciation from the local civilians, or that of the security detail that blocked off the area, to the adrenaline rush you receive from playing a life or death game of chess with the enemy, the job is extremely rewarding."

5. What do you miss most when you're serving overseas -- both the people you miss but also the "comforts of home" type of things or the food.

"Missing family is the most difficult piece of the deployment. Inevitably, you miss holidays, birthdays, or just quality time watching the kids grow up.

"As far as the comforts, I have been very fortunate, receiving a ton of care packages. It is amazing how much the little things, like a jar of Nutella or some home-made Butterfinger candies, can boost morale."