Uruguay awards AFSOUTH Airmen “Medalla al Mérito Aeronáutico” Published Oct. 2, 2008 By Capt. Nathan D. Broshear Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay -- On 21 August, Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, the Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander, was awarded the "Medalla al Mérito Aeronáutico," or "Medal of Aeronautical Merit," from the Commander in Chief of the Uruguayan Air Force, Gen. Enrique Bonelli. The decoration was accepted in tribute to the men and women of Air Forces Southern and the ongoing commitment, cooperation and friendship Davis-Monthan based Airmen demonstrate for their Air Force counterparts in Uruguay. The AFSOUTH commander explained that the medal and accompanying citation were bestowed in recognition of decades of cooperation between Air Force Airmen and Airmen of the "Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya", or Uruguayan Air Force. The citation to accompany the award affirms the sentiment, stating directly, "Due to the continued efforts taken to increase the ties of friendship and cooperation among the Air Forces." The citation features the seal of the Uruguayan ministry of defense and the roundel of the Uruguayan Air Force along with the signature of the President of Uruguay, Dr. Tabaré Vazquez. The citation and medal will soon be on display at the Twelfth Air Force headquarters. "This recognition belongs to each and every Airman serving in Twelfth Air Force," said Gen. Seip. "These professionals are committed to working with our friends in Uruguay to prepare for the challenges of military service." The mutual respect between the Air Force leaders was evident during the recent visit. Gen. Seip unveiled a new program to continue partnership with Uruguay's growing Air Force while General Bonelli admired the professionalism of US Air Force noncommissioned officers and stressed the importance of programs to develop NCO careers. "The Uruguayan Air Force has been an incredible host for our delegation," said Gen. Seip. "During the trip, our team was able to discuss future engagements in the region and listen to the issues facing our counterparts." Gen. Seip's new initiative begins in October. More than 70 Airmen from across the Air Force will participate in the first-ever "Operation Southern Partner," spending a week working alongside Uruguayan Air Force Airmen and three neighboring nations during focused subject matter exchanges. The exchanges involve Airmen from more than 25 military specialties including maintenance, logistics, public affairs, search and rescue, professional military education and family readiness. In addition, Airmen will donate dozens of hours to help improve community centers within Montevideo, the nation's capital city. "Following this honor, we're excited to debut OSP with Uruguayan Airmen," said General Seip. "OSP is another example of how AFSOUTH's cooperation with Airmen of the Uruguayan Air Force will continue -- we're looking forward to many more years of partnership."