Air Guard director awards Distinguished Service Medal to Hurst

  • Published
  • By Dale Greer
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The director of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, presented the Distinguished Service Medal to Brig. Gen. Warren H. Hurst, Kentucky’s assistant adjutant for Air, during a ceremony at the Kentucky National Guard Base here Saturday.

The medal is awarded to members of the United States military who distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service in duties of great responsibility.

“ ‘Mission is first, take care of your people’ is our motto, and sometimes those two things are in conflict,” Rice said to an audience of Airmen, friends and family prior to presenting the award. “Warren was all about doing what’s right through professionalism and commitment. He had the focus to do what was right, to find that balance and stay consistently true to our values. He did that here on a level that I have never seen before.”

In his role as commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard, Hurst is principle advisor to the adjutant general on matters pertaining to the unit, including strategic plans, programs, policies and air operations. As such, he is responsible for the overall management of the state's flying unit, the 123rd Airlift Wing.

Hurst is a combat veteran and command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours. During 14 years of active duty, he has served in various operational and headquarters staff assignments, including duty as an instructor and evaluator pilot for the 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern. He also served an active-duty tour with the Kentucky Air National Guard prior to joining the unit as a traditional Guardsman in 2000.

Hurst distinguished himself as assistant adjutant general-Air, Headquarters-Kentucky National Guard, from June 25, 2014 to May 31, 2019, according to the award citation.

“While under his command, Kentucky Air National Guard units garnered three United States Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, one United States Air Force Organizational Excellence Award and one National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation,” the citation said.

“Under General Hurst's direction, the Kentucky Air national guard's 223rd Intelligence Flight, as the National Security Agency's expert in developing access to unique intelligence sources, achieved remarkable success in providing actionable intelligence that influenced and guided United States national policy and directly resulted in an updated presidential executive order,” the citation continued.

Hurst also played a key role during United States European Command's global engagement war game, helping develop new multi-domain concepts for integrated and synchronized combat operations.

Finally, Hurst revolutionized Commonwealth of Kentucky protocols “to affect an immediate and precise response for state and national-level contingency and crisis action humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief events,” the citation concluded. “He established the Commonwealth Aviation Coordination Group, a recognized and respected model for organizing, planning and executing civil and military aviation responses during domestic operations, and strategically managed Kentucky Air National Guard responses to various natural disasters, to include five hurricanes.”

Hurst served as commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing from 2012 to 2013. Before that, he held staff positions at the Tanker Airlift Control Center and at Headquarters, Air Mobility Command. He has flown C-130 combat and humanitarian relief operations worldwide, including operations in Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, Central/South America and the Middle East.

In 2007, Hurst stood up and commanded Kentucky’s 123rd Contingency Response Group — the only CRG in the Air National Guard — and is qualified as a Joint Task Force-Port Opening commander. He also served as the 1st Air Force director of mobility forces for eight homeland security/homeland defense exercises and coordinated civil-military air relief efforts during the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

The following year, Hurst was deputy director of mobility forces to the Pacific Air Forces commander in response to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan.