April 18, 2011

Counterdrug program says farewell to longtime members

Staff Reports

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Program marked the culmination of several significant personnel transitions in a relaxed ceremony with family and friends in Sandston in January. There, Counterdrug celebrated one retirement, one departure, and three mobilizations.

 

Lt. Col. Charlton Dunn, the Counterdrug coordinator (second from left), recognizes Tech. Sgt. Cynthia Waller, 1st Sgt. Edwin Bonilla and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wayne Martell (L-R) for their efforts with the Counterdrug program. All three servicemembers are deploying overseas. (Courtesy photo)

Sgt. 1st Class David Waltman retired after 20 years of active service, 16 of which were with the Counterdrug program.  An accomplished field artilleryman on the traditional side, Waltman served as a criminal analyst supporting both a major urban police department and a federal law enforcement agency. His efforts over the years supported 1,903 arrests and $26.9 million in seizures. Waltman also helped stand up the Counterdrug Ion Scan program and Joint Substance Abuse Program as well as volunteering with the Drug Demand Reduction Program. 

“I’ve been a part of many great units, groups and cells but none compare to our CD family,” Waltman, who received a Meritorious Service Medal for his service said. “It has been my honor to serve with every one of you.”

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wayne Martell departed Counterdrug service after 20 years of active service, 16 of which were with Counterdrug. Martell is highly recognized at the national level for his contributions to the OH-58 program and the national Counterdrug aviation program. 

“A plank holder in the Virginia Counterdrug aviation section, Mr. Martell was key in building the program into the highly efficient and effective team it is today,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gareth O’Bannon, a former Counterdrug pilot. Martell was directly responsible for over 15,500 accident-free program flight hours, flying over 4,000 hours himself, and personally supporting over $132 million in seizures and 375 arrests in the last 10 years alone. 

 

Lt. Col. Charlton Dunn (left), the Counterdrug coordinator, and Staff Sgt. Chad Harada (right) present Sgt. 1st Class Dave Waltman (center) his retirement plaque. (Courtesy photo)

“A legend in his own time, law enforcement agencies regularly asked for him by name and he is infamous for his unerring ability to find marijuana plots nearly any time he took flight,” said CW4 John Marsh, current Counterdrug Aviation Section Chief. Martell shared credit for his accomplishments with the entire Counterdrug family and noted that “this Task Force puts the "Best of the Best" on the front lines with effective and impressive results and all on a very tight budget.”  Rather than retire from Counterdrug, Martell transitioned into the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment to deploy to Iraq as a UH-60 pilot before retirement.

Along with recognizing Martell’s upcoming deployment, Counterdrug also recognized 1st Sgt. Edwin Bonilla and Tech. Sgt. Cynthia Waller on their upcoming deployments. Bonilla, senior maintainer in the Counterdrug aviation section, is deploying with 2-224 Aviation to Iraq as the first sergeant of Headquarters Company and Waller, a Counterdrug Administrative NCO, is deploying to Afghanistan as a heavy equipment operator with the 203rd Red Horse Squadron.  These service members highlight the fact that Counterdrug members are valuable traditional unit members first, participating in drills, annual training, and deployments. This point was even more recently emphasized by the alert of three additional CD members to prepare for spring mobilizations.

The Virginia National Guard Counterdrug program places Guardsmen in communities conducting Drug Demand Reduction classes for schools and civic organizations, supporting law enforcement agencies with criminal analysts and ION scanning, providing Prevention, Treatment, and Outreach services to Guardsmen and family members, managing the Joint substance Abuse Program (drug testing), and providing aviation support to law enforcement agencies.   

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