USAFE-AFAFRICA recognizes 2015's Outstanding Airmen of the Year

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- During the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa annual awards ceremony here March 17, Gen. Frank Gorenc, USAFE-AFAFRICA commander, and Chief Master Sgt. James E. Davis, USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief, recognized the best Airmen in the command for 2015.

The awards recognize Airmen for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements.

Gorenc took to the stage to congratulate all of the winners and nominees from this year's competition.

"Our aspiration is clear, to be the world's greatest Air Force," Gorenc said. "It is the commitment to our values and who we are as an Air Force that makes our Air Force great."

He said it's the same commitment that made these Airmen stand out.

"Tonight we are celebrating excellence, because we are powered by our airmen who go out there every day getting the job done and demonstrate a level of innovation that is second to none," said the general.

He closed his remarks by emphasizing the importance of airpower and how these Airmen epitomize the dedication to the U.S. Air Force, defense of our nation and NATO allies.

"Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for a great evening," said Gorenc.

Airmen competed within their units, then at wing level and have now been named the best in the command. They will go on to compete at the Air Force level for the coveted Outstanding Airmen of the Year award, which will be announced later this year.

For more photos, please visit the Ramstein AB Flickr page

The honorees are:

MilesAirman Category - Senior Airman Derek F. Miles

Airman Category - Senior Airman Derek F. Miles

Duty title: Ground Radar Systems Technician

Unit: 39th Operations Support Squadron Incirlik Air Base, Turkey

Highlights: Miles acted as the shop NCO in charge for three weeks leading five Airmen in the absence of an NCO. His leadership and actions led to a 99.9% radar uptime, beating the USAFE standard. Miles established the command and control capability for five deployed sqiadrons enabling them to fly more than 1,000 sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. 

How does earning this award make you feel?
"I feel honored and humbled by being selected for such an award. Although this is an individual award, I would not be at this point without the Airmen that work with me every single day. I draw my strength and inspiration from them. They help complete the mission every single day, and without them I would not have received this award. I am honored to be the one receiving recognition but I am most honored because I get to work and serve with such a hard working group of professionals in the 39th Air base Wing. "

Why does Senior Airman Miles deserve this award? "Senior Airman Miles' dedication to his team and well-being of his peers is unparalleled," said Staff Sgt. Steven Dlugosz, 39th Operations Support Squadron Ground Radar NCO in Charge. "His innovative mindset and positive spirit is what makes him so special in our leaner and always evolving Air Force. He has a never quit attitude and strife for excellence that sends waves of inspiration, not only to his surrounding airmen but to Airmen of all levels."

Jean-FelixNCO Category - Tech. Sgt. Anoninette Jean-Felix

Duty title:
NCO in Charge of Outpatient Records

Unit: 86th Medical Support Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Highlights:  While leading 31 Airmen and eight teams, Jean-Felix managed a budget of $2 million for 155,000 patient visits. Furthermore, she was selected to lead a disaster response team of 21 Airmen through 4 exercises achieving a 100% validation during a wing inspection.

How does earning this award make you feel? " Blessed! It is truly humbling to be nominated for this award, and I am honored to represent the Mighty 86th Airlift Wing. I could have never reached this pinnacle moment in my career without the great mentorship and guidance of my leadership, hard work and dedication of my Airmen and support from my family."

Why does Tech. Sgt. Jean-Felix deserve this award? "TSgt Jean-Felix embodies all of the characteristics of a dynamic, servant yet humble leader," said Senior Master Sgt. Nakia Lorquet, 86th Medical Support Squadron. "The time, effort and dedication she spends developing and mentoring her Airmen is truly remarkable and evidenced by the significant achievements accomplished over the course of the past year, by both her and her team! The high expectations she sets for herself continue to drive her toward greatness; pushing her team along with her every step of the way. She is the kind of NCO we encourage our Airmen to emulate. She earned this award! I am honored to know her and to have had the opportunity to watch her in action...inspiring!"

PietzSenior NCO Category - Master Sgt. Troy Pietz

Duty title:
Infrastructure Superintendent

Unit: 100th Civil Engineer Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, U.K.

Highlights:  Pietz led the largest Civil Engineer Squadron flight as the interim operations superintendent. Pietz led a base-wide heating program which managed five boiler houses and 3, 000 requirements keeping a $49 million system online.

How does earning this award make you feel? "I am absolutely humbled to be USAFE-AFAFRICA's 2015 Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. It truly is a blessing and honor to represent our Airman across the command, and have the opportunity to pay it forward.  This award belongs more to the constant professionals of Team Mildenhall, and is indicative of their hard work and dedication that allowed myself and team to execute our mission every day. Lastly, this accomplishment could not have come to fruition without the strong support from leadership, and unwavering love from my family that is a constant motivation.

Why does Master Sgt. Pietz deserve this award?   "MSgt Troy Pietz truly 'leads the way' through his day-to-day commitment to our Air Force core values," said Lt. Col. Brandon Sokora, 100th CES commander. "He's the epitome of Airmanship and sets the example for all to follow!  He excels at developing innovative solutions to dynamic challenges through teamwork and hard work!  His innovative spirit and unparalleled work ethic illuminates our unit, Team Mildenhall, and the local community.   Airmen across Team Mildenhall benefit from top-notch leadership and mentorship through MSgt Pietz's executive positions in multiple base-wide private organizations.  His volunteerism in the community has furthered the US-UK 'special relationship' while also sustaining the legacy of the 'Bloody Hundredth' and the generations of Airmen who have preceded him in England.  MSgt Pietz is very deserving of this award and the perfect representative of our unit, the 100th Air Refueling Wing, and the United States Air Force."

IngramCompany Grade Officer Category - Capt. Bryan Ingram

Duty title: Deployment and Distribution Flight Commander

Unit: 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey

Highlights: Ingram was selected to lead the Expeditionary Mission Support Group at a geographically separated unit of the 39th Air Base Wing. While in this role he led 44 Airmen providing base operating support to an austere forward operation location in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. He was also crucial to the bed down of the 31st Fighter Wing when they deployed to Incirlik as the first fighters to fly combat missions out of the Turkish base in more than a decade.

How does earning this award make you feel? " Winning CGO of the Year for USAFE is a huge honor and is very humbling. In my opinion, there are very few things in life that happen by chance and winning this award is not a coincidence, a "right time/right place" kind of thing, and it's most definitely not about me. This award was truly earned by an outstanding team of our enlisted corps and by the guidance of exceptional Wing, Group, and Squadron leadership at the 39th Air Base Wing. I have to say a special thank you to my family, my 39th Expeditionary Mission Support Group, Detachment 1 BOS-I team that is currently deployed in support of the Coalition Air Campaign against ISIL, 39th LRS Deployment and Distribution Flight (while they're yapping, we're making it happen!), past Squadron Commanders and mentors that gave great advice and life lessons, the supervisors that tell it like it is, the Senior NCOs that have your back and tell you when you're missing the mark, and the Airmen who get the mission done every day. I'm proud to serve our great Nation and even more proud to serve alongside such outstanding men and women of the 39th."

Why does Capt. Ingram deserve this award? "Whether filling in as Director of Operations or Commander as a junior Captain, Bryan has been impressing Wing leadership since he arrived at Incirlik," said Maj. Daniel Nigolian, 39th Logisitics Readiness Squadron commander. "He returned from SOS in residence as a Distinguished Graduate to find the 39th Air Base Wing spinning up for an Operation INHERENT RESOLVE-driven 3,500% operations tempo, where he bedded down the first aircraft in the fight. Bryan then volunteered to deploy as a Detachment Commander to stand up a command and control radar node at an austere forward operating location. His efforts generated a 160,000 square mile blanket of critical battlespace intelligence for 2 COCOMs and enabled Air Tasking Order operations. His deservedness for this honor is grounded in the fact that he has excelled at every task, is ever willing to tackle greater challenges, has the respect of his Airmen and the confidence of leadership across every level of the 39th Air Base Wing."

ScofieldFirst Sgt. Category - Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Scofield

Duty title: First Sergeant

Unit: 86th Medical Group, Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Highlights: Scofield cared for 950 Airmen and advised five commanders on 61 administrative actions and 18 non-judicial punishments as well as two courts martial. Furthermore he led a tri-wing tiger team that resuscitated at dormant bay orderly program and garnered more than $6,000 for 1,100 Airmen.

How does earning this award make you feel? "I am honored to be among this year's recipients of the USAFE 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year and was blown away to be even nominated for the First Sergeant of the Year. I remain surprised at the fact that an ordinary Airman, such as me, who takes pride in taking care of Airmen and families would win at this level. My teammates and peers in the First Sergeant career field are all doing amazing things each and every day. I just hope I make them proud to be a part of our team, here at Ramstein and across the Air Force."

Why does Senior Master Sgt. Scofield deserve this award? "A leading character trait of first sergeants is selflessness," said Lt. Col. E. Tammy Dotson, 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. "A first sergeant must be selfless in their time, in their giving, and in their compassion. Sergeant Brass is a shining example of someone who takes the time to be there for his people and feed into them knowledge and tools they can use in all aspects of their life to make tomorrow better than today.  Many times the job of a first sergeant is thankless because so much goes on behind the scenes with taking care of Airman and it's not something that can particularly be recognized.  This award serves as a 'thank you' to him and his family for the sacrifice."

LewisCivilian Category I - Megan Lewis

Duty title: Unit Program Coordinator

Unit: 100th Maintenance Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, U.K.

Highlights: Lewis managed 20 squadron programs and streamlined the deployment process for 142 personnel enabling them to deploy in support of two major commands. Furthermore, when she identified a LeaveWeb error she partnered with finance to rectify the issue for more than 1,000 profiles.

How does earning this award make you feel? "I am truly humbled by winning this award. It's been a very productive year for the 100 MXS/CSS and I could not have accomplished the things I did without my team. The overhaul to the EPR system alone presented challenges that no individual person could tackle alone, however as a team we were able overcome the challenges it's presented and educated hundreds of Maintainers. While it is a true honor to receive this award as an individual it is a testament to my team at RAF Mildenhall and things we've done over the last year. It is a blessing to know that the work we've done is being recognized at this level."

Why does Ms. Lewis deserve this award? "Mrs. Lewis fulfilled a critical role for the 100th Maintenance Squadron in 2015," said Tech. Sgt. Keith Hodge, 100th Maintenance Squadron. "She is the first face most of our Airmen see when they initially report to the unit. She always greets them with the utmost respect and professionalism regardless of rank or position. She also expertly manages a vast number of squadron programs, most of which are delegated to her directly by the squadron commander. Many of the unit's successes this year, to include a recent no-notice IG inspection, have directly resulted from her personal efforts and conscientious zeal. She exemplifies the civilian Airman concept, embodying the Air Force core values, and serving the 100th Maintenance Squadron with distinction."

TylerCivilian Category II - Ronald Tyler

Duty title: Information Technology Specialist

Unit: 100th Communications Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, U.K.

Highlights: Tyler led a communications security inspection which resulted in a rare perfect score ensuring 100% compliance at two wings. Furthermore, he resolved a cyber attack on a RAF base, ID's the attack vector and ultimately received command and control for 70 personnel.

How does earning this award make you feel? "I feel blessed, appreciated, and grateful. This award has given me a great sense of accomplishment for something that I am passionate about-serving others. I work with an amazing team in the Cyber Security office. I'm thankful for being in the right place at the right time to be recognized by my squadron, group and wing."

Why does Mr. Tyler deserve this award? "Ron Tyler is the real deal. First and foremost he cares about people whether it is on or off duty," said Senior Master Sgt. Kelvin Mauk, 100th Communications Squadron. "When it comes to his duties, it is his goal to provide customers the best service and product by providing top-notch support, researching possible solutions to questions and educating customers on policies and procedures. This same attitude carries over to his personal life too, and it is apparent in his willingness and desire to serve his church, family and his community. The bottom-line his attitude on life is contagious and he positively impacts everyone he encounters."

ChaconBase Honor Guard Member of the Year - Staff Sgt. Hector Chacon

Duty title: Non-Destructive Inspection Craftsman

Unit: 31st Maintenance Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Highlights:  Chacon was the premier trainer and organizer for 70 wing and local details. He selflessly completed more than 150 hours of training and oversaw 85% of honor guard ceremonies. Furthermore, he conducted a five day certification course six times and produced 11 new members, increasing productivity for the team by 35%.

How does earning this award make you feel? "I feel blessed. This couldn't have been possible without my supervisions support. When it got tough, my family and friends where there to pick me up. I've done Base Honor Guard for seven years at four different bases and I think I'm ready to pass the torch off to the new Airmen I've trained. I couldn't think of a better way to go out, but this is definitely far from my pinnacle. This is only my new standard and I'm going to keep pushing myself to be a better person and NCO. Special thanks to Major Shepherd, Major Ngo, Master Sergeant Fines, Technical Sergeant Lee, Technical Sergeant Howard, and Technical Sergeant Miller for believing in me. #TeamChacon"

Why does Staff Sgt. Chacon deserve this award? "Sergeant Hector Chacon's character is defined by his actions and not through the lip service of the well-spoken," said Tech. Sgt. Samuel Howard. "Sergeant Chacon has integrated himself in the ranks of the U.S. Air Force through NCO leadership, willingness to outperform his duties, and his drive to nurture job knowledge expertise. He is not a quitter. Even when his career experienced a rough patch, where many would have folded, Sergeant Chacon brushed off his knees and keeps running forward. He reinforces military courtesy, tradition, and honor through his patronage sense of dedication throughout his work and Honor Guard duties. The Air Force needs more Airmen like him."

JollyBase Honor Guard Program Manager of the Year - Senior Airman Amanda Jolly

Duty title: NCO in charge of Base Honor Guard

Unit: HQ USAFE-AFAFRICA Command Protocol, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Highlights: Senior Airman Jolly was selected to fill a Master Sgt. NOCIC position which charged her with leading more than 50 guardsmen through 417 details. Aside from personally leading 87 details, she served the honor guard by recruiting Airmen from FTAC directly contributing to an increase in membership by 37%.

How does earning this award make you feel? "Surprised and humble at the same time. Being able to represent at the USAFE-AFAFRICA level and possibly even at the Air Force level is one of the best feelings! I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my Honor Guard team and the leadership support we have received here at Ramstein. It definitely isn't a one man show. It takes us all to be able to give back to our fallen who have given the ultimate sacrifice and to live a life of pride and integrity to ensure that sacrifice is not lost. Being allowed to render the final salute and to share the experience with our military families is an honor that I will forever uphold. I am here to serve each and every one of you and would like to say THANK YOU!

Why does Senior Airman Jolly deserve this award? "Senior Airman Jolly was hand-picked to lead Ramstein's Honor Guard Program when the NCOIC deployed short-notice for six months," said Maj. Chrystal Putnam. "She didn't just seamlessly maintain operations; she also tirelessly looked for ways to improve the Honor Guard's support to the community. Senior Airman Jolly is an extremely dedicated guardsman and an outstanding Airman!"

WaiteKey Spouse of the Year - Mrs. Carri Waite

Duty title: Key Spouse

Unit: 435th Construction and Training Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Highlights:  Waite organized two CTS spouses' commanders calls, providing direct communication with commander. She also planned nice squadron and 1 group monthly dinner, boosting morale and improving family relations. Furthermore she developed a monthly spouse's night out program designed to enhance relationships within the squadron.

How does earning this award make you feel? "Surprised at first. I couldn't believe it. Then it sunk in. I feel honored and very humbled. Being able to reach out and help people is the most amazing and rewarding feeling in the world. Helping the families and Active Duty, by letting them know that they are cared about and never alone, is so important. I feel this is a vital part to helping the everyday mission to be a success. This award is a team effort. Without the help and support of my command and our amazing spouses at Squadron, Group and Wing levels nothing would get done. By working together at the 435th CTS, 435th CRG and 435th AGOW, we have been able to tap into so many more resources to help our families. Lt. Col. Sutherland told me at the very beginning, 'A good leader sees peoples' strengths, and helps everyone by utilizing those strengths.' By doing this together, we have formed an amazing family support system. It is truly an honor and privilege to be part of something so incredible."

Why does Carri Waite deserve this award? "Without wearing the uniform, Carri May is in the Air Force. She is an AIRMAN! The CSAF has made it clear the Key Spouse program is essential to our mission readiness, and I wholeheartedly believe that to be true. The 435TH Construction and Training Squadron was deployed over 29,000 days last year -- that's a lot when you have less than 300 people in your squadron. So a solid key spouse program is indispensable. Not only did Carri May support the military in the squadron, but she also supported the local nationals as well. She helped CTS become a family. Key Spouses should just focus on the squadron, they need to be a part of the community as well. Carri May volunteered at two PTAs, prepared and organized over 150 home-cooked meals for families in need, developed an air-tight process for inbound families, and organized the 435th AGOW's first annual 10-miler run. These are just some of the ways Mrs. Waite made a difference in the KMC. In summary, Mrs. Waite helped create a communications network between leadership and families. She solved problems before they ever got to my level. That's what being an AIRMAN is all about!"