A decorated RAAF Williamtown member who played a critical role in helping to establish the F-35A Joint Strike Fight capability in Australia has been rewarded for his efforts with a prestigious USA Meritorious Service Medal.
Corlette's Squadron Leader Kevin Le Poidevin, from the Surveillance and Control Systems Program, served as the Australian site activation and introduction to service lead in the US F-35 Joint Program Office from 2014-17.
He served as the lead for the activation of the $1.4 billion effort to establish pilot and maintenance training and operational capability at RAAF Williamtown, operational capability and airframe and F135 propulsion depot level capabilities at Williamtown and Amberley.
"I am honoured, proud and thankful to have been presented with this medal on behalf of the US President. Having previously been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia from the Queen in 2001, maybe it is time to retire," SQNLDR Le Poidevin said.
"It was a career highlight to see the realisation of many years of work by many people as the F-35 operational, training and maintenance precinct rose from the sand.
"Planning and facilitating initialisation of the global airframe and F135 propulsion maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO U) depot capabilities in a unique global environment to a compressed timeline was challenging, but rewarding.
"There were great people on both sides of the Pacific establishing the facilities, maintenance and training centres, as well as establishing and supporting multiple IT networks."
In presenting the award on behalf of the US Government, Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts said SQNLDR Le Poidevin's exemplary leadership contributed greatly to the establishment of Australia's F-35A capability.
"His mentorship to junior and less experienced US Government and partner nation personnel on the roles and responsibilities of the site activation and introduction to service team was critical in quickly acclimating new personnel and minimising gaps in performance," AVM Roberts said.
The Australian-based security team led by Kristie Green was a critical enabler for SQNLDR Le Poidevin's role as a trusted partner, enabling him to establish relationships that offered Australia unique opportunities.
"Cyber worthiness and ICT security is core business if you want to be a fifth-generation Air Force," SQNLDR Le Poidevin said.
"I also worked closely with Char Mahoney, the JSF Division representative in the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC, where her 17 years of F-35 industry expertise was pivotal to Australia's successful assignment of MRO U capabilities to Australian industry.
"My professional highlight was establishing enduring relationships with military, civilian and industry professionals from around the globe."
Taking his wife, Narrelle, on a "three-year honeymoon" to thank her for 28 years of support was the personal highlight of SQNLDR Le Poidevin's US posting.
"The F-35A capability offers so many opportunities for Australians," SQNLDR Le Poidevin said. "It opens up traditional and non-traditional roles, such as networks and cyber, which present opportunities for people to be part of the team delivering Australia's air and space power."
SQNLDR Le Poidevin is currently the air traffic management system support manager at RAAF Base Williamtown, having worked in air, space and ground projects for the past 12 years.