Estonian Border Guard Cross of Merit

November 24, 2010

Chief Warrant Officer Gaven Meadows, tactical operations officer in the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Charlie Company 2-224 Aviation Regiment, received the Estonian Border Guard Cross of Merit Class III award during a ceremony at the Estonian Embassy in Washington D.C., Nov. 24.

The award was established in 1997 to recognize public servants, in exceptional cases, and other persons determined worthy of merit by the Estonian Border Guard. It has three grades; the highest class is first class.

Class III Cross of Merit awarded:
•    Due diligence for border surveillance, border control, search and rescue at sea, marine pollution detection, localization and liquidation or other activities related to internal security;
•    Merits related to the development of the border;
•    For effective cooperation.

Chief Meadows was selected for this award because of his support of the Office of Defense Cooperation in Estonia and the Estonian Border Guard during his 2006-09 tour as part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program. He worked to get a U.S. grant through the U.S. European Command’s Counter Narcoterrorism Program to construct two helicopter bases of operation for the Border Guard.  The two bases established counterdrug aviation support in the eastern part of Estonia.

“I greatly appreciate the award and the recognition. The biggest award for me was being able to work the Border Guard and all the Estonian defense forces,” said Chief Meadows. “It was just an amazing experience it felt really great to be able to help a partner develop a capability.”

The military was something he wanted to do early on stated Bob Meadows, father of Chief Meadows.

While his father traveled to D.C. on business, the then 13-year old Chief Meadows, asked his father to pick up a book on helicopters. In the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum library Bob found an Army basic helicopter-training manual.

“He read the whole thing [training manual] many times,” said Bob. “He took me down to this shopping mall where he’d stay at this arcade machine and he drew a crowd. Seems he was the only one that was able to fly it [the helicopter game].”

“We are so thankful,” said Bonnie Meadows, mother of Chief Meadows. We’re thankful that other people can see the merit in him; not just his dad and mom.”

The National Guard’s State Partnership Program began in 1993 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The program aimed at increasing cooperation between former Warsaw Pact Eastern European countries and the United States. It also fosters mutual interests and establishes long-term relationships across all levels of society. It introduces these countries to democracy, assists them to build professional military intuitions and helps their responses to civil emergencies.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were the first countries to join the partnership program and the Maryland National Guard was partnered with the Republic of Estonia. The Maryland Guard was instrumental in getting Estonia into NATO, and in 2003, became one of the first states to have a second partnership; one with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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