For Immediate Release
August 20, 2009
AFA Salutes 2009 Outstanding Airmen of the Year
Arlington, VA – The Air Force Association today saluted the 2009 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
Each year, in a program initiated more than 50 years ago by AFA, the Association salutes 12 outstanding enlisted personnel for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement, and personal achievements. AFA proudly honors these Outstanding Airmen at its annual convention in Washington, D.C., in connection with the annual Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition.
“The Air Force Association is very proud to join the Air Force in recognizing the contributions of these truly outstanding Airmen,” said Joe Sutter, AFA Chairman of the Board. “They are a credit to the Air Force, and we appreciate their dedication, their patriotism and their example.”
“Recognizing the Outstanding Airmen of the Year is a real privilege for AFA,” said Mike Dunn, President of AFA. “They help make the nation safer and stronger by being the best in their fields.”
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 Major 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.
For more information, contact Lynette Cross at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-727-3337 ext. 4807.
The recipients of the 2009 Airmen of the Year Award are as follows:
Manuel J. Herrera
Unit: 375th Civil Engineering Squadron, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
Duty Title: Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight
Home of Record: Tucson, Arizona
Technical Sergeant Manuel Herrera led 251 improvised explosive device missions in Iraq, surviving four attacks and capturing 36 terrorists. He personally disarmed two improvised explosive devices, foiling an attempted attack on a convoy carrying 40 coalition troops and $12 million in equipment. As the leader of a three-person team, Technical Sergeant Herrera was responsible for six highways and planned 32 route clearance missions. He guided the recovery and disposal of 4,683 improvised explosive devices and unidentified explosive ordnance items, reducing the enemy’s stockpile by an estimated 31 percent. A by-name requested specialist, he led a 14-day, four-country U.S. Secret Service mission to protect the President of the United States and 18 other dignitaries. Technical Sergeant Herrera is the 2008 Air Mobility Command Civil Engineer Military Technician of the Year.
Christopher W. Pollock
Unit: 18th Civil Engineer Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan
Duty Title: Chief, Horizontal Section
Home of Record: Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
Master Sergeant Christopher Pollock led cradle-to-grave construction for 16 buildings at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, spending 210 days deployed. He executed $156 million in construction at Kandahar and six forward operating bases, directly supporting 46 units in Afghanistan. During a four-hour firefight, he killed five insurgents and wounded nine more, earning a Bronze Star Medal and Air Force Combat Action Medal. Master Sergeant Pollock spearheaded a $241,000 project to replace a failed landing zone at an Afghanistan airfield, directly allowing 1,200 combat air support missions to launch from the improved site. An anti-terrorism and force protection expert, he made 23 fence repairs on 27 miles of base perimeter, protecting 6,500 troops and $8 billion in assets. Master Sergeant Pollock is the 2008 Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for Pacific Air Forces.
Mary A. Bechdel
Unit: 13th Intelligence Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, California
Duty Title: Superintendent, Operations
Home of Record: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Senior Master Sergeant Mary Bechdel managed 1,400 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, analyzing 65,500 images and 8,800 hours of full motion video. As squadron superintendent, she led 380 Airmen conducting wartime operations for six combatant commands. She oversaw 3,900 combat signal intelligence hours and 26,000 reports for her combat unit. She led a unit that was understaffed in the noncommissioned officer ranks with 80 percent of the unit in upgrade training. Under her leadership, the unit reported 669 potential improvised explosive device attacks and threats to coalition convoys. Senior Master Sergeant Bechdel is the 2008 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award recipient in the Senior Noncommissioned Officer category.
Johanna S. Aviles
Unit: National Reconnaissance Office, Los Angeles, California
Duty Title: Network Operations Center Technician
Home of Record: Charlotte, North Carolina
Staff Sergeant Johanna Aviles enabled homeland unmanned aerial vehicle missions during the 2008 California wildfires, delivering reports to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to contain 72 fires. She led the installation of five miles of communications fiber, managing three maintenance teams to finish the $1.7 million request eight months ahead of schedule. Sergeant Aviles solved a faulty system timing upgrade, correcting an error that eluded senior technicians for three months and got the system online in 24 hours. A stalwart leader, she oversaw a 12-member installation team on a $725,000 network upgrade, doubling the Predator’s armed reconnaissance and interdiction mission capability. A recent promotee, Staff Sergeant Aviles is the 2008 Air Force Space Command 2E Communications and Information Airman category award winner.
Alexander W. Royal
Unit: 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Carson, Colorado
Duty Title: Tactical Air Control Party
Home of Record: Hershey, Pennsylvania
Senior Airman Alexander Royal, in an extremely active 11th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron tactical air control party, engaged in 20 missions and three firefights. During a dismounted mission, he provided security and returned fire for joint terminal attack controllers, facilitating 18 hours of close air support. He controlled three Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System missions in Iraq that helped detain two high-value personnel. As mission planner for a raid using close air support, he tracked suspicious personnel entering a house, calling in for support to help catch three of four high-value individuals being sought. A joint trainer, he created a tactical air control party brief for U.S. Army Soldiers, training 56 new arrivals on close air support missions. Senior Airman Royal is the Air Force 2008 Airman 1st Class Raymond Losano Tactical Air Control Party of the Year.
Benjamin P. Horton
Unit: 775th Civil Engineer Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah
Duty Title: Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician
Home of Record: Conroe, Texas
Technical Sergeant Benjamin Horton raided 14 weapons cache sites, destroying 2,398 munitions and 14,388 pounds of explosives during a deployment to Iraq. During an improvised explosive device attack, he removed four injured Soldiers from wreckage and cleared a helicopter medical evacuation landing zone to quickly airlift the injured to follow-on medical care. He investigated 40 blast sites and gathered evidence of enemy tactics that provided valuable data to intelligence leaders. During one particular mission while being engaged by enemy fire, he used smoke grenades to cloud his position and cleared an unexploded ordnance threat while under the threat of sniper fire. He analyzed attacks and provided intelligence on enemy tactics that helped capture six of the top ten terrorists in Kirkuk, Iraq. Technical Sergeant Horton earned the 2008 Air Force Material Command Maj. Gen. Eugene A. Lupia Best Military Technician award.
Jeffery E. Steagall
Unit: Headquarters Air Force Space Command, Office of the Inspector General, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
Duty Title: Manager, Communications and Information Systems Inspections
Home of Record: Mansfield, Ohio
Senior Master Sergeant Jeffery Steagall led 80 Airmen during a short-notice deployment to achieve a 99.9 percent up-time rate for network systems. He led a rewrite of an Air Force Space Command inspection policy on nuclear enterprise assessments. During the Air Force-directed reorganization of communications squadrons, he aligned 13 offices and 120 members four months ahead of schedule. He expertly managed network use after a fiber cut severely hampered Central Command operations, allowing more than 50 mission platforms to remain fully operational. He orchestrated five Inspector General inspections, executing 45 scenarios and identified 115 deficient processes. A master planner, he executed a $1 million technical refresh of communications equipment, replacing 452 of 1,725 systems. Senior Master Sergeant Steagall is the 2008 Inspector General Lance P. Sijan award recipient.
John T. Carter
Unit: 100th Security Forces Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, England
Duty Title: Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, Security Forces Resources
Home of Record: Fredericksburg, Virginia
Technical Sergeant John Carter stopped an explosive-laden car in Iraq, evacuating 60 people from around the car to save countless lives. He led a raid on an insurgent stronghold, capturing two terrorists and thwarting the kidnapping of an Army officer. Following a direct mortar strike to his bunker, Sergeant Carter evacuated the bunker and provided life-saving first aid. He led a joint sting operation, apprehending an improvised explosive device maker who was planning an attack on a senior Iraqi leader. During his 210-day deployment, he directed 6,000 mounted and foot patrols. He led the career development course and upgrade training for 10 deployed security forces Airmen, leading to a 94 percent end-of-course average and all training completed on time. Technical Sergeant Carter is the 2008 Air Force Outstanding Security Forces Flight Level Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Jennifer S. Laufer
Unit: 42nd Air Base Wing, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
Duty Title: Chaplain Assistant
Home of Record: Miami, Florida
Technical Sergeant Jennifer Laufer managed the Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq, chaplain facility, authoring an electronic schedule program for chapel services. A combat lifesaver, she responded to casualty care for two wounded at Kirkuk. She led the first ever joint service Turkmen mosque visit, enhancing chapel corps foreign relations. Sergeant Laufer identified 10 critical contract deficiencies valued at $78,000, rectifying systematic problems. During a manning shortage, she developed a schedule meeting the needs of 70,000 military members, civilians and dependents at her home station. Using 15 community volunteers, she directed and led laity training, saving countless man hours yearly. Sergeant Laufer provided vital spiritual triage assisting with two fatalities after rocket attacks. She is the 2008 Air University Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Channel H. Bolton-Scholl
Unit: 446th Maintenance Squadron, McChord Air Force Base, Washington
Duty Title: Aircraft Maintenance Technician
Home of Record: Eugene, Oregon
Senior Airman Channel Bolton-Scholl assisted with the dismantling and recovery of a C-130 in downtown Baghdad, Iraq, helping secure and reclaim an Air Force asset. A multi-skilled Airman, she served as an additional duty controller at the Sather Air Base, Iraq, Maintenance Operations Control Center, providing relief for assigned personnel. She helped support a Department of State request by coordinating maintenance equipment to support the Iraqi Air Force, directly contributing to 45 missions and a 100 percent mission capable rate. While deployed to New Zealand, she was instrumental in launching aircraft missions for Operation DEEP FREEZE in Antarctica. She provided maintenance support for an aeromedical evacuation flight of an injured National Science Foundation scientist from Antarctica to New Zealand. Senior Airman Bolton-Scholl is the 2008 Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command Lance P. Sijan award winner.
Tyrone F. Bingham
Unit: 170th Operations Support Squadron, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
Duty Title: Host Aviation Resource Manager
Home of Record: Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Master Sergeant Tyrone Bingham maintained flawless control over 1,700 aviators’ flight records, 25 times the average number at an Air Force wing. Supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, he maintained 25 secure key links for three units, ensuring crews had up-to-date combat mission data. He also completed more than 360 mission recap reports, sending accurate and timely data to the Tanker Airlift Control Center. During a C-130 mishap, he managed operations, providing the investigation board with critical flight summary data. A Total Force supervisor, Sergeant Bingham led eight active duty and two Air National Guard personnel, and crafted an office continuation training plan around a manning shortage and temporary duties. Master Sergeant Bingham is the 2008 Air National Guard Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Marisol M. Lozada
Unit: 27th Special Operations Medical Group, Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico
Duty Title: Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, Mental Health Flight and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Clinic
Home of Record: Fort Hancock, Texas
Technical Sergeant Marisol Lozada built an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment tracking database that has been implemented across the Air Force. She created a superior Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment outcome metrics process that the Inspector General selected as a benchmark for 74 wings. During the superintendent’s absence, she served as the flight noncommissioned officer in charge for three mental health areas. She managed $290,000 in patient visits and procured $30,000 in free resources. During a 60-day period of critical manning, she worked 240 extra hours to ensure there were no gaps in patient access or mental health service. Her inspection of four referral centers ensured quality for mental health needs and cultivated key civilian partnerships. Technical Sergeant Lozada is the 2008 Air Force Special Operations Command Mental Health Technician of the Year.
The Air Force Association is a 501(C) (3), nonprofit organization promoting public understanding of aerospace power and the pivotal role it plays in the security of the nation. AFA has more than 200 chapters nationally and internationally representing 125,000 members. Visit AFA at http://www.afa.org.
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