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Enlisted Heritage Research Institute receives Air Force level award

The Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall marks the 50th Anniversary of Lima Site 85 with a memorial service and a monument unveiling at Heritage Park, Gunter Annex, Mar. 12, 2018. Medal of Honor recipient Chief Master Sergeant Richard Etchberger and his teammates were remembered with a candle lighting ceremony.

The Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall marks the 50th Anniversary of Lima Site 85 with a memorial service and a monument unveiling at Heritage Park, Gunter Annex, Mar. 12, 2018. Medal of Honor recipient Chief Master Sergeant Richard Etchberger and his teammates were remembered with a candle lighting ceremony.

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

The Enlisted Heritage Research Institute at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base was recognized last month when they won an Air Force Heritage award for their work.

Chief Master Sgt Emily Shade, along with her team at the EHRI, oversee the research and operations necessary to run one of the Air Force’s most respected museums. Their expertise even won them an Air Force level award for their work on an updated display honoring the battle at Lima Site 85, and the people whose lives it claimed.

Established in 1986, the EHRI is home to some of the most revered awards and decorations ever given to an enlisted member of the Air Force, including all seven Medals of Honor received by enlisted Airmen. Among these giants now stands the display of Chief Master Sgt Richard L. Etchberger. Though he was killed over 50 years ago, Etchberger’s Medal of Honor wouldn’t be presented to his sons until September 21, 2010.

”Because it was a secret operation and it took so many years for it to become declassified, a lot of these families didn’t know what had happened to their loved ones,” Shade said.

Along with the newly updated display of the battle, the research team also commissioned a marble monument that overlooks the front of the hall. They even orchestrated a memorial service on March 11, the 50th anniversary of the attack, in memory of the Airmen who lost their lives that day. The families of the fallen were invited to represent their service members and share in the importance of the day.

“That the Air force was able to honor these airmen and truly honor these family members was really remarkable,” Shade said.

For their dedication and respect to the legacy of these Airmen and their families, the Enlisted Heritage Research Institute was presented with an Air Force Heritage award by the Air Force History and Museums Program.

“We started this out for the families … we didn’t start out thinking this could be an Air Force award, but the recognition is very humbling,” said Senior Airman Erin Heberlie, EHRI IT/Administrative Specialist.

Chief Shade was accredited as being instrumental in the institute’s recent success, but she says she couldn’t have done it without everyone who helped out.

“We really imparted on every single person involved in this event how special it was and how much of an impact they were going to make on these families,” said Shade, “This is the best team I have ever worked with … every one of them wants to be here, wants to do what our mission set is, which is to preserve yesterday today for tomorrow.”