2017 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 MAJCOM 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 Alex Edgar 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.)

2017 USAF Outstanding Airmen of the Year

SMSgt Raymond Artis, Jr. ArtisR.jpg
Operations Flight Chief

8th Communications Squadron
Kunsan AB, Republic of Korea

Senior Master Sgt. Raymond Artis Jr. led a team of 103 cyber professionals who maintained flawless communication support for 22 units and 3,000 warfighters, while sustaining command and control capabilities for the $1.1 billion aircraft fleet and 6,900 annual sorties. As the operations leader, he oversaw vital network upgrades for $36.6 million in projects, resolved over 3,800 jobs and postured $4 billion war assets against North Korean hostilities. Additionally, he led the largest peninsula operational readiness exercise support by engineering network and phone capabilities for 1,000 joint and coalition forces, resulting in 737 successful sorties. Furthermore, he steered the Environmental Control System network beddown and delivered heating, ventilation and air conditioning management across 34 sites, saving the wing $2 million per year in energy costs. Finally, he earned 13 credits through four courses with a 3.7 GPA, culminating in a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in information technology management.


MSgt Johann Ko Johann_Ko.gif
MQ-9 Evaluator Sensor Operator
78th Attack Squadron
Creech AFB, NV

Master Sgt. Johann Ko flew 952 combat hours in support of National Command Authority objectives, which enabled 19 engagements and killed 47 insurgents. He led an 11-person flight and authored 10 award packages to secure 8 awards for 11 Airmen, including wing-, group- and squadron-level awards. As an MQ-9 instructor and evaluator, Ko executed 56 upgrade events, taught over 85 flight hours and certified 11 members on moving target attack. Additionally, Ko led 28 Total Force integrated aircrew as section chief. His team eliminated two tier-1 high-value targets and was awarded back-to-back 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Crew Mission of the Quarter awards. Ko graduated from the NCO academy as a distinguished graduate and has earned 15 credit hours toward his bachelor’s degree for intelligence studies, sustaining a 3.9 GPA.

MSgt Joshua Malyemezian  Photo_Malyemezian.gif
Contingency Support Section Chief
55th Contracting Squadron 
Offutt AFB, NE

Master Sgt. Joshua D. Malyemezian’s innovative efforts to improve the 55th Wing’s contracting process secured a $90 million multiple award construction contract that increased mission capabilities 400 percent and directly contributed to his unit’s selection as the Air Combat Command’s large contracting squadron of the year for 2016. Additionally, he served as the Chapter 984 Air Force Sergeant’s Association Legislative Trustee where he provided real-time legislative updates and acted as the voice to Capitol Hill for his 1,400-member chapter. Finally, Malyemezian partnered with the 55th Medical Group on a 68-personnel contract merger worth $18 million, consolidating 29 contracts to four, reducing the administrative burden by 87 percent and saving $11 million over three years.

MSgt Michael StevensStevens_sm.gif
Military Training Flight Chief
United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH

Master Sgt. Michael J. Stevens was instrumental in directing Air Force Material Command’s sole military training program by ensuring the health, morale and safety of 486 Airmen in Training. He improved the dormitory entry-control program by implementing a quality check system, securing a $13 million facility. He led the Airman Leadership Program at the 711th Human Performance Wing, mentoring and developing 71 Airmen. His efforts directly resulted in producing 24 distinguished and honor graduates, the highest rate in three years. Additionally, he set-up an Airman development program, that eventually shaped three Airman Quarterly Award winners. Furthermore, he ensured the successful transition of 22 medical students after finalizing the 88th Medical Group and U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine Memorandum of Agreement. His actions saved the Air Force $921,000 in annual basic allowance for housing. Stevens’ professionalism and leadership abilities were key to his selection as AFMC’s 2015 NCO Military Training Leader of the Year.

MSgt Ashley StrongStrongA_Bio.gif
Dental Flight Chief
21st Medical Squadron
Schreiver AFB, CO

Master Sgt. Ashley Strong drove U. S. Air Forces in Europe’s largest dental personnel reliability program, supporting 42,000 patient visits, valued at $3 million and enabling a 99 percent war-ready rate. She undertook the Air Force Medical Operations Agency's top priority by initiating two process improvement teams aimed at building a medical records guide to support veteran’s administration claims. As the 31st Fighter Wing operations security manager, she led two vulnerability town hall meetings that directly resulted in a 79 percent reduction in security breaches in 16 subordinate squadrons. Strong chaired the Aviano Air Base DUI Battle Plan Team that enacted policies responsible for slashing alcohol related incidents by 34 percent. Additionally, she championed the Green Dot initiative by facilitating two early adopter courses, 29 overviews and key spouse training, educating 1,539 members of the Team Peterson community.


TSgt Jason Selberg
MQ-1 Sensor Operator
214th Attack Squadron, 162d Wing
Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

Tech. Sgt. Jason Selberg, served as an operator on 134 MQ-1 Predator combat support missions. During a specific mission, Selberg resolved a troop’s in contact situation by successfully guiding a Hellfire missile, resulting in three enemies killed in action and one wounded. He responded to a convoy taking fire and provided overwatch through full-motion video, resulting in the safe recovery of 15 U.S. and allied nation soldiers. He led the charge to improve real-world combat search and rescue with a pararescue training team. He led Arizona’s U.S. Air Force 50 Summits Hiking Program to the top of Mount Humphreys, highlighting resiliency and fitness among 18 members. He also completed six college courses towards a bachelor’s degree and volunteered 27 hours to train with Team Rubicon, a veteran-based disaster response organization.


TSgt Kyle Wilson
Airman Leadership School Instructor
86th Force Support Squadron
Ramstein AB, Germany

Tech. Sgt. Kyle Wilson was instrumental to the Ramstein Airman Leadership School mission. He educated 1,407 frontline supervisors across 2,800 classroom hours. Additionally, he filled in as the ALS commandant and managed the schoolhouse’s training program while the school transitioned an unprecedented 10 cadre members in a 12-month period. During this time, his professionalism and commitment to wingmanship resulted in his selection as the Air Force’s only staff sergeant certified Core Values Coach. As a direct result of his mentorship and guidance, Wilson’s team was selected as the Air Force’s A1 Professional Development Team of the Year.

SSgt Stephen Lapointe
Combat Controller
24th Special Tactics Squadron
Pope Army Airfield, NC

Staff Sgt. Stephen Lapointe was a vital member of a 120-day joint task force rotation, supporting Navy Special Operation Forces as the air-to-ground subject matter expert. He conducted 75 missions and seven strikes, taking out 30 enemy combatants. While conducting a Presidential-directed mission, he identified and controlled an austere landing zone and close-air support, eliminating a high value target. Lapointe’s attention to detail prevented a catastrophic civilian casualty incident when he made a critical “abort” call during a fire mission, saving crucial political and military relationships. He also served as primary air traffic controller in a high-threat environment, controlling 244 aircraft with zero mishaps. Additionally, Lapointe instructed Navy Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, qualifying four Navy personnel.


SSgt Kacper Sovinski
Sensors Research and Development Analyst
Geospatial Intelligence Analysis Squadron
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH

Staff Sgt. Kacper Sovinski led a four-member team across five sub-programs to develop the Air Force’s first laser sensor data analysis training program. Additionally, he executed a two-week study and calibration test to maximize the capabilities of a $3 million airborne asset. His technical expertise enabled him to rapidly deploy in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, performing spectral sensor maintenance and upgrades vital to warfighter daily operations. He led 63 Airmen across 22 community outreach, fundraising and professional development events, enriching the military perspective of 228 airmen and improving the quality of life of 55 veterans in hospice care. Throughout these efforts, he maintained a 3.6 GPA while he completed eight courses toward his bachelor’s degree and received the John L. Levitow award while attending Airman Leadership School.


SrA Kaitlyn Callahan
Physical Medicine Technician
341st Medical Operations Squadron
Malmstrom AFB, MT

Senior Airman Kaitlyn J. Callahan served as the physical therapy supervisor for eight months, treated 6,900 patients, saved the Air Force $904,000 and led her flight in winning the wing’s 2016 Professional Team of the Third Quarter award. Callahan’s oversight of two flight safety programs and 14,000 medical record reviews led to the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care Survey hailing the group as the “best-seen clinic in 35 years and 480 inspections,” and the group’s Personnel Reliability Program “Outstanding” rating during the 2015 Nuclear Surety Inspection. Furthermore, she completed her Community College of the Air Force Physical Medicine degree, and earned 12 semester hours toward her bachelor’s degree with a 4.0 GPA. Additionally, Callahan volunteered 40 hours aiding disabled children and served as an Honor Guard member, completing 24 details across the largest continental United States area of responsibility. Finally, she won the 2015 Air Force Global Strike Command Physical Medicine Airman of the Year and the 2016 U.S. Air Force Physical Medicine Airman of the Year awards.

SrA Brittany Fuentes
Weapons Analyst
Air Intelligence Squadron
Scott AFB, IL

Senior Airman Brittany F. Fuentes deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, just prior to the unsuccessful coup attempt, and was thrust into the role of lead analyst for the first 48 hours of an eight-day airfield closure. She provided the pre-mission brief for the first C-17 departure from Incirlik, initiating the safe evacuation of 708 dependents. Following this, she led her team through a 30-day force protection condition increase, providing 28 intelligence briefings that ensured wing preparedness while dealing with threats to the base. At home station, Fuentes managed the Weapons and Tactics Team’s threat assessment process, analyzing 116 enemy attacks in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. She identified enemy tactics which helped safeguard over 69,000 Rapid Global Mobility sorties moving 334,000 tons of vital cargo. In addition, she analyzed the threat to a high-risk Iraqi airfield which drove the 18th Air Force commander’s “go” decision, resulting in the successful execution of 23 C-17 missions providing supplies vital to the Mosul offensive.

SrA Nicole Moore
Aerospace Medical Service Technician
59th Medical Operations Squadron
JBSA-Lackland, Texas

Senior Airman Nicole A. Moore was instrumental as a mass casualty first responder in the Air Force Central Command’s largest transitional care ward. Her innovation and attention to detail led to the care ward extending their life support capability by 400 percent, which saved the lives of 14 critically injured soldiers. As an honor guard member, she led 70 details across 3,400 miles that cultivated a positive Air Force image and honored over 2,000 families. Additionally, she masterfully completed 12 credit hours toward her criminal justice bachelor’s degree with a 4.0 GPA, as well as mentored her fellow Airmen with their college enrollments. Finally, she was highlighted as the representative of a successful Air Force lifestyle in “Futures” magazine, a publication that reached 35,000 national schools.