Annual Awards ceremony honors Arizona Guard members

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  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The 161st Air Refueling Wing held its annual awards ceremony here Sunday, April 2.

The award ceremony recognized Airmen who went above and beyond what was asked of them in the past year. Recognized are the unit's Outstanding Airmen of the Year, as well as Airmen who received the federal Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and various other unit awards. 

“This is a time to look back at the previous year and all our accomplishments,” said Col. Troy Daniels, the wing commander, and the ceremony’s presiding officer. “All of these things contribute to something that is bigger than us.”

The award for the Outstanding Airman of the Year, Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year are based on duty performance, self-improvement, and their involvement within the military and their community.

This year's Outstanding Airman of the Year was Airman 1st Class Jonathan Shaeffer, 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron.

This year's Outstanding Noncommisioned Officer of the Year was Tech. Sgt. Christopher Brattin, 161st Maintenance Group.

This year's Outstanding Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year was Master Sgt. Deanna Meyer, 161st Comptroller Flight.

This year's Outstanding First Sergeant of the Year was Senior Master Sgt. Rachel Landegent, from the 161st Operations Group and wing staff.

This year's Outstanding Honor Guard Member of the Year was Master Sgt. Warren Edwards, 161st Maintenance Group.

This year's recipient of the Wing Command Chief award was Tech. Sgt. Aindrea Tait, 161st Maintenance Group.

This year's recipient of the Maj. Gen. Donald L. Owens Junior Officer Award for Excellence was 2nd Lt. Tinashe Machona, 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs.

The Airman First Class Elizabeth N. Jacobson Award is presented to a Security Forces member, and first term Airmen, who performs above and beyond service in an expeditionary environment. Airman 1st Class Elizabeth N. Jacobson was the first Security Forces member killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She died Sept. 28, 2005, during a convoy security support mission when her vehicle made contact with an improvised explosive device.

This year’s recipient is Staff Sgt. Orlando Calzadillas, 161st Security Forces Squadron.

The following Airmen earned the federal Meritorious Service Medal - given for leadership, foresight and superior efforts that resulted in significant contributions to the effectiveness and success of the wing and the Arizona Air National Guard:  Lt. Col. Joseph Cuffari, Maj. Jessica Hastings, Master Sgt. Craig Armstrong, Master Sgt. Gregory Johnson, Master Sgt. Monica Martinez and Technical Sgt. Robin Lafferty.

The Air Medal is awarded to anyone who, while serving in any capacity in or with the Armed Forces of the United States, distinguishes himself or herself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight. This year’s recipients are: Capt. Charles Hoover, Master Sgt. Jason Snodgrass, Technical Sgt. Chad Hill and Staff Sgt. Jarred Jordan.

The Aerial Achievement Medal is awarded to members of the United States military while serving in a capacity with the U.S. Air Force, who distinguish themselves by sustained meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight. The achievements must be accomplished with distinction above and beyond that normally expected of professional Airmen.

This year’s recipient is Master Sgt. Vince Jones, 161st Operations Group.

The following Airmen earned the Air Force Commendation Medal for sustained meritorious service: Master Sgt. Brian Kramer, Master Sgt. James Wright, Tech. Sgt. Kara Martin, Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin, Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Patrick, Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Steege, Staff Sgt. Benedict Barroga, Staff Sgt. Andrew Berroth, Staff Sgt. David Beatty, Staff Sgt. Benjamin Coleman, Staff Sgt. Allen Farinacci, Staff Sgt. John Milhoan, Staff Sgt. Ancel Miller, Staff Sgt. Matthew Salamone, Staff Sgt. Nicklas Savasta, Staff Sgt. Matthew St. Onge and Staff Sgt. Trenton Stokes.

The Albert Leo Burns Trophy is awarded each year to the officer who has contributed the most to the mission of the 161st Air Refueling Wing.

This year’s trophy was presented to Lt. Col. Erik Wichmann from the operations group.

The Outstanding Support Performer Award is presented to a member of the 161st Support Group who exemplifies the highest standards. 

This year's award was presented to Staff Sgt. Bobbi Nieuwhof.

The Hugh P. Kelly Memorial Award is presented to a maintenance professional that has shown their dedication and professional skills as a contributing factor to the wing's success. It was established as a memorial to Lt. Hugh P. Kelly who died in and aircraft accident on Memorial Day, 1954.

This year's recipient was Tech. Sgt. James Kear, 161st Maintenance Squadron.

The Copper 5 award is presented to the aircrew members who have best represented the wing though their professional skills and leadership. The award is presented in memoriam of four 161st Air Refueling Group service members who lost their lives in 1982, while flying a KC-135 Stratotanker - call sign Copper 5.

This year's recipients were Lt. Col. Erik Wichmann, aircraft commander; 1st Lt. Sean Kelly, copilot; and Staff Sgt. Kevin Gimenez, boom operator.

Tech. Sgt. Donald Plough and Maj. Truman Young were Copper 5 crew members. Awards are presented each year bearing their namesakes, which pay tribute to their service and sacrifice. The awards are presented to an enlisted member and an officer, both of whom have exhibited exceptional duty performance, military bearing, esprit de corps, mentorship, dedication to the mission, loyalty and devotion to country, and extraordinary community involvement.

This year's winners were Staff Sgt. Shane Shafer and Lt. Col. Jeremy Lopes.

The Diamond Sharp Award is sponsored by the Copperheads First Sergeant Council. This award is given to a professional model Airman, regardless of rank or position, who positively influences others and continually exceeds standards to accomplish the mission. 

This year’s recipient is Airman 1st Class Jonathan Schaeffer, 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron.

The Safety Award is presented to members of the wing who have contributed most to mishap prevention during the year.

This year’s recipients are Master Sgt. Lincoln Crook, 161st Communications Flight and Tech. Sgt. Michael Gunderson, 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron.

The wing also recognized a civilian who volunteered countless hours to assist unit members and their families. This service is especially critical and appreciated when members are called to serve in distant locations.

This year the wing recognized RoseAnne Marquez.

Lastly, the wing recognized those Airmen who earned their Community College of the Air Force Degrees. The class of April 2017 are: Senior Airman Todd Atchey, Staff Sgt. Aaron Brooks, Senior Master Sgt. Reynaldo Caraveo, Tech. Sgt. Scott Choronzy, Staff Sgt. Lonnie Downing, Staff Sgt. Bryan Gower, Master Sgt. Robert Hernandez, Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Madorski, Master Sgt. Jason McIntyre, Senior Master Sgt. Al Murietta, Master Sgt. John Reeves, Tech. Sgt. Corinne Williams, Master Sgt. Deanna Meyer, Tech. Sgt. Aindrea Tait, and Staff Sgt. Orlando Calzadillas