2014 Outstanding Airmen of the Year

This award recognizes 12 outstanding enlisted personnel for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement, and personal achievements. AFA honors the 12 Outstanding Airmen at its annual convention in Washington, D.C. The program was initiated at the Air Force Association's 10th annual national Conference, held in New Orleans in 1956. The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, a general officer and selected Maj Com command chiefs form the selection board. The Air Force Chief of Staff reviews the selections. The 12 Outstanding Airmen are awarded the Outstanding Airman ribbon with the bronze service star device and wear the Outstanding Airman badge for one year. They also serve on the Air Force Enlisted Council for one year. Guidelines for submissions are outlined in Air Force Instruction 36-2805.

For questions concerning the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year program, contact Jill Westeyn at awards@afa.org or call 1-800-727-3337 ext. 4807; the Air Force point of contact is the Office of Special Trophies and Awards at Randolph AFB. For a more detailed history of the Outstanding Airman Award, click here.

For a complete listing of all recipients since the award's inception, click here. (NOTE: The historical documentation is incomplete. If you are able to fill in any of the missing information, please contact Jill Westeyn at 703-247-5800 ext. 4807 or awards@afa.org.)

2014 USAF Outstanding Airmen of the Year

Name: Boston A. Alexander
Duty Title: Superintendent J6 & Command 3DXXX FM
Organization: North American Aerospace Defense and US Northern Command (NORAD and 
USNORTHCOM) J6, Peterson AFB, Colorado
Home of Record: New Carrollton, Maryland

Senior Master Sergeant Boston A. Alexander successfully directed a 170 member Information Technology Service Management team and oversaw critical assets valued in excess of $4 billion dollars.  As the J6 Superintendent, he led 15 projects to provide around the clock full spectrum support for the North American Aerospace Defense and US Northern Command mission.  Additionally, he piloted a $2.8 million dollar Friendly Forces Tracker program of 32-thousand electronic devices which improved Force Protection, homeland defense, and Defense Support to Civil Authorities operations. Finally, SMSgt Alexander drove the Information Technology Equipment certification methodology and managed 9 thousand mission systems worth $2 million dollars, and ultimately increased North American Aerospace Defense, US Northern Command and Defense Information Systems Agencies interoperability.  


Name: Latoria R. Ellis
Duty Title: Contracting Team Lead
Organization: 502d Contracting Squadron, 502d Air Base Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas
Home of Record: Miami, Florida

Technical Sergeant Latoria R. Ellis led a 25-member team that completed 86 contracts for Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, the Air Force’s largest medical wing. She spearheaded a $2 million energy savings acquisition in which 19 buildings were retrofitted with solar panels, reducing the utility bill and saving the Air Force $6,000 a year. She also steered a $1.9 million generator efficiency project, replacing 33 percent of defective grids in Military Family Housing, reducing output by 14 percent and saving the Air Force $24,000 a year. Sergeant Ellis aced 223 hours of training at the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, garnering her Distinguished Graduate and Academic Achievement Awards. She was also named Air Education and Training Command’s NCO of the Year, which put her as number 1 out of 13,039 Non-Commissioned Officers. 

Name: Aaron T. Feliciano
Duty Title: MQ-9 Avionics Systems Journeyman
Organization: 849th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico
Home of Record: St Cloud, Florida

Senior Airman Aaron Feliciano was instrumental in modernizing the 49th Wing’s MQ-9 fleet by successfully upgrading 13 MQ-9s in less than 5 days, increasing the combat mission readiness of 340 aircrews. He led a 5-person RPA safety modernization team that upgraded 11 aircraft and reduced processing time from 90 days to less than two weeks with an outstanding 100% maintenance quality assurance rating. As the Avionics Section trainer, he certified 99 tasks, trained 11 Airmen and raised the section’s qualifications by 35 percent. He masterfully completed 3 college classes and 7 CLEPS with a stellar 4.0 GPA, earning his CCAF Avionics Systems degree. Additionally, he re-missioned a MQ-9 training sortie which supported the recovery of an injured German Air Forces Airman stranded in the New Mexico desert. 


Name: Ryan E. Gangadeen
Duty Title: NCOIC of Operations Training
Organization: 1st Space Operations Squadron, Schriever AFB, CO
Home of Record: Brooklyn, New York

Technical Sergeant Ryan Gangadeen served on a one-year deployment in Afghanistan as the Lead Professional Military Education advisor to the Afghanistan Air Force (AAF), where he guided the creation of the AAF training regimen. During his deployment, Gangadeen directed 44 AAF courses for 60 career fields, evaluated four maintenance training contracts worth $527 million, and revealed six duplicate contractual requirements which saved $40 million. He quickly responded to a vehicle born IED threat ensuring the safe return of 33 coalition & 22 civilians to Kabul International Airport. As a certified convoy vehicle commander, he led 7 outside-the-wire NATO mobility missions, securing 18 members with zero incidents.  

Name: Ariful Haque
Duty Title: Water and Fuel Maintenance Technician
Organization: 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan
Home of Record: East Elmhurst Queens, New York

Senior Airman Ariful Haque led five Japanese National employees maintaining and repairing the Yokota Air Base bulk fuel storage area, Type III hydrant fueling systems, and high-level control valves, which enabled air operations at the sole Airlift Wing in the western Pacific. In this position, he led a storm pump renovation project that solved two years of flooding in US Forces Japan Headquarters, eliminating the risk to multiple networks vital to bilateral operations. Relying on his criminal justice background and language skills, he partnered with the local AFOSI Detachment to develop realistic scenarios for a joint training exercise for agents assigned to Japan. As a proud member of the Yokota Air Base Honor Guard, he established the first drill team in Pacific Air Forces and has performed as a Ceremonial Guardsman throughout the region promoting bilateral relationships.  


Name: Shabree N. Heasell
Duty Title: Geospatial Intelligence Analyst
Home of Record: San Luis Obispo, California

Senior Airman Shabree N. Heasell was an exemplary performer as an Imagery Intelligence Support Analyst, which led to her selection as a Tactics and Training Analyst supporting 115 personnel. In this facet, she identified 43 smuggling routes across a 193 square-mile area, leading to the discovery and elimination of 12 terrorist workshops, 20 improvised explosive devices, and 50 weapons caches.  Additionally, she developed 9 primary and alternate evacuation routes for the Secret Service which ensured the safety of the President of the United States and 223 staff personnel during the president’s $85 million diplomatic visit to Africa. Her exceptional dedication to her fellow Airmen led her to volunteer 1,270 hours to 15 organizations. She led 350 volunteers through 53 events, raising over $2 million dollars in sales and proceeds that were donated to local schools and charities. 



Name: Toyre L. Hudson
Duty Title: Mental Health Flight Chief
Organization: 6th Medical Operations Squadron, MacDill AFB, Tampa, Florida 
Home of Record: Columbus, Georgia 

Technical Sergeant Toyre L. Hudson provided exceptional leadership for 47 personnel delivering mental health care to the Department of Defense’s largest single-unit area of 215,000 beneficiaries. He deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan where he served as the NCOIC of Combat Stress, providing oversight to 11 forward operating bases, ultimately supporting 15,000 joint service members and 50 coalition nations.  TSgt Hudson conducted 21 outside-the-wire missions to assist 110 warriors in crisis. He also served 65 days as a First Sergeant during Army combat skills training, resolving over 1,200 equipment and personnel issues. In this capacity, he ensured his team of 45 Airmen was prepared to support combat operations throughout Afghanistan. 

Name: Douglas J. Matthews
Duty Title: Combat Control Craftsman
Organization:125th Special Tactics Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard, Portland, Oregon
Home of Record: Boulder, Colorado

Technical Sergeant Doug J. Matthews completed a one-year mobilization with the 125th Special Tactics Squadron that included a three-month combat deployment in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. During this deployment, Sergeant Matthews was injured when his team came under heavy enemy fire. Sergeant Matthews was blown from his vehicle when an improvised explosive device detonated directly below his gun truck. Refusing medevac, TSgt Matthews continued to fight, devastating the enemy by calling in close air strikes, providing cover for his team to reconsolidate.  
Sergeant Matthews was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his heroic actions. After spending a year in intense physical therapy, TSgt Matthews has returned to full combat mission ready status and is poised to defend this nation from those who wish it harm.  


Name: William R. Posch 
Duty Title: Pararescue Craftsman 
Organization: DOPJ, 308th Rescue Squadron, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida
Home of Record: Indialantic Beach, Florida

Technical Sergeant William R. Posch expertly led a crisis evacuation of more than 126 Americans from the US Embassy in the South Sudan capital of Juba. He headed a 23 Airman team during an expeditionary combat deployment and has provided more than 1,560 hours of Combat Rescue coverage, rescuing 143 persons. His contributions reorganizing UTC packouts increased his team’s alert readiness by 33%.  His knowledge and skill further contributed to his squadron’s effectiveness by providing training for Airmen and joint service personnel. His proven battlefield experience, coupled with his understanding of the tactical operations, contributed to his superb design of schematics of a Personnel Recovery Tactical Operations Center, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of command and control of rescue and recovery operations.


Name: Delorean Sheridan
Duty Title: Combat Control Craftsman
Organization: 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, North Carolina
Home of Record: Chesapeake, Virginia 

Master Sergeant Delorean Sheridan served as the lone Air Commando with Army Special Forces through 177 days of combat in Afghanistan, including 43 high-risk missions and 18 firefights. He solely defeated an insider ambush on joint-forces that claimed the lives of his teammates around him by bravely closing in on the gunman with a pistol and M-4 rifle.During the attack, he exposed himself to heavy machine gun fire three times to drag his wounded teammates out of the line of fire to a protected casualty collection point. Sergeant Sheridan was hand-picked to stand-up an elite airfield recon team with a global focus, and led a U.S. search team to recover downed, sensitive technology with zero compromise to national security. Despite being deployed over half the year, he earned his 2nd CCAF degree and completed 12 semester hours towards a bachelor’s degree. He was recently awarded a Silver Star and his second Bronze Star for heroism in combat during his 6th deployment to Afghanistan. 


Name: Michael J. Venning
Duty Title: Functional Area Manager
Organization: Directorate of Contracting, Headquarters, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio
Home of Record: Melbourne, Australia

Senior Master Sergeant Michael J. Venning expertly managed the Air Force’s largest contingency contracting corps of 405 members at nine bases. He was the uniformed expert for the Contingency Acquisition Support Model, where he briefed and demonstrated the program to five Army general officers, ensuring the system’s approval. He also planned and executed the career field’s electronic training documentation initiative, creating a standardized system for 1,890 enlisted members. His efforts transitioned the entire career field in less than two months. He was awarded Air Force Materiel Command’s Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year in Contracting and was a Distinguished Graduate at the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer 
Academy where he also won the prestigious Commandant’s Leadership Award.  

Name: David W. Wallace III
Duty Title: Plans and Programs NCO
Organization: 91st Security Forces Group, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota
Home of Record: Norfolk, Virginia

Staff Sergeant David W. Wallace was selected as the Air Force's 2013 Outstanding Security Forces Support Staff Airman of the Year while serving as the Plans and Programs Noncommissioned Officer. During that time, he authored a response time matrix for 150 off-installation nuclear sites which maximized resources and minimized response times. His product was benchmarked throughout  20th Air Force for all Intercontinental Ballistic Missile units. Additionally, he reinvigorated outdated Site Defense Plans to enhance the security posture for 150 Launch Facilities and 15 Missile Alert Facilities.  While serving his section with excellence, he also aced four college courses; the 12 completed credit hours culminated in a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. Wallace also organized the Minot Air Force Base Spouse Showcase, which highlighted base products and services to more than 300 dependents.