Time Honors Chief Master Sergeant

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by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio

5/5/2010 - NEW YORK (AFNS) -- The editors of TIME magazine honored Chief Master Sgt. Antonio D. Travis as one of the 100 most influential people in the world for his efforts following the Haiti earthquake. He was recognized May 4 during the 2010 TIME 100 gala event at New York City's Lincoln Center.

Chief Travis was one of the first U.S. military members on the ground at the Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Port au Prince, Haiti, only 30 hours after the earthquake and less than 12 hours after the nation's president requested U.S. assistance. The chief led a team of special tactics Airmen from the 23rd, 21st and 123rd special tactics squadrons.

With his team of combat veterans, Chief Travis led the largest single-runway operation in history, using hand-held radios to control thousands of aircraft. Their air traffic control tower was a card table set up next to the airport's runway.

"Twenty-eight minutes after touchdown, we controlled the first air landing followed immediately by a departure, and we did not slow down for the next 12 days," said Chief Travis, who hails from Nelson County, Ky.

After establishing control of the airfield there, his team orchestrated an orderly flow for incoming aircraft and dealt with the constraints of the inadequate airfield, which potentially could have limited relief operations. Facing 42 aircraft jammed into a parking ramp designed to accommodate 10 large planes, untangling the gridlock was the first of many seemingly insurmountable challenges necessary to facilitate the flood of inbound relief flights.

"I'm the figurehead for the 224 Airman participating in Operation Unified Response," said Chief Travis of his selection to be honored by the TIME magazine editors. "This honor is for the men and women from the 1st Special Operations Wing and more importantly, Air Force Special Operations Command, who went down there."

The TIME list, now in its seventh year, recognizes the activism, innovation and achievement of the world's most influential individuals.

As TIME's managing editor Rick Stengel has said of the list in the past, "The TIME 100 is not a list of the most powerful people in the world, it's not a list of the smartest people in the world, it's a list of the most influential people in the world. They're scientists, they're thinkers, they're philosophers, they're leaders, they're icons, they're artists, they're visionaries. They're people who are using their ideas, their visions, their actions to transform the world and have an effect on a multitude of people."

The TIME 100 Gala was headlined by guest speaker former President Bill Clinton with a musical performance by Prince. Also in attendance were honorees and celebrities including Sarah Palin, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Elton John, Taylor Swift, Katherine Bigelow, Oliver Stone, Neil Patrick Harris and Betty White.

The full 2010 TIME 100 list and related tributes of all those honored will appear in the May 10 issue available on newsstands and online. (Maj. David Small, National Media Outreach Office, contributed to this article.)