Story by. Capt. Taylor Criswell
ILLESHEIM, Germany—Cpl. Oscar Cantu of 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade has been selected to receive the CW4 Bob Wylie Award for AH64 Apache Aircraft maintenance excellence.
The award is named after U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4(R) Bob Wylie who passed away in 2007. Wylie is widely known for his contributions and advancements in AH-64 Apache maintenance and logistical operations throughout the Army Aviation community. The award was dedicated soon after his passing and is given to one NCO and one enlisted Army Apache maintainer each year that embody the legacy of Wylie in their work.
“I love taking apart, troubleshooting and working with such complicated equipment,” said Cantu, a 15R AH-64 Apache Maintainer and Houston native. “When we start a phase on an Apache, we break it all the way down to the bare bones and rebuild it over 45 days.”
Cantu has been with the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade for two years and was nominated by his chain of command to receive this high honor because of his outstanding work ethic, subject matter expertise and leadership qualities.
“As a leader in aviation maintenance, CPL Cantu’s expertise and dedication set him apart from his peers,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Ryan, commander of the 615th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB). “His actions continue to have a direct impact on the combat readiness of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade while we support NATO allies across Europe.”
Cantu originally joined the Army as a 12B combat engineer and said moving to the field of Apache maintenance at the rank of Specialist was not easy. Arriving to his first unit, he quickly realized that he was not at the level he wanted to be.
“I had to catch up to my peers when I first switched over from combat engineer,” he said. “I spent a lot of time studying by myself to get to their level.”
But, the extra study time prepared him well to step into his current role as squad leader and floor supervisor for his Apache phase maintenance platoon. His daily dedication to excellence continues to make a positive impact on his unit.
“Cpl. Cantu is beyond deserving of the CW4 Bob Wylie Award. He constantly supports his peers, subordinates and superiors with no concern for recognition,” explained 1st Lt. Hayley Duke, airframe repair platoon leader with Bravo Company, 615th ASB. “He consistently proves himself to not only be an excellent maintainer, but also a top-tier leader with influence far beyond the chain of command.”
Cantu says he hopes “to establish a legacy” during the remainder of his career as someone who leads from the front and invests in the knowledge of others.
“I hope to one day be able to pass down the knowledge that I will have gained over the years,” said Cantu. “I want to help other people succeed while building solid relationships, comradery and trust within my team.”
Cantu will receive the award at an official ceremony in May at the Boeing AH-64 Plant in Mesa, Ariz.