Community honors two Guardsmen

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Susan Gladstein
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The Tempe Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee recognized two 161st Air Refueling Wing members during a ceremony here March 21, 2013.

Staff Sgt. Brandie Forcum, 161 ARW command post, was named as the Tech. Sgt. Donald Plough award recipient and Lt. Col. John Conley, 161 ARW judge advocate general, received the Maj. Truman Young award.

The Tempe MAC was formed more than 30 years ago to honor military members of Arizona Guard and Reserve members. Each month, the Tempe MAC conducts luncheons to present awards to outstanding officer and enlisted personnel selected by their units.

The Tech. Sgt. Donald Plough and the Maj. Truman Young awards were named for two individuals who lost their lives when their KC-135 crashed March 13, 1982. Both served honorably in the Arizona Air National Guard with the 161 ARW and their legacy continues with an annual award in their name.

"It's an honor to receive the Donald Plough award," Sergeant Forcum said. "I know the competition was tough, so it is very humbling to be the recipient. I'd like to say thanks to Chief (Master Sgt. Jerry) Shepherd for recognizing my hard work and nominating me for this award."

As the primary command and control team members during the 2012 Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection, Sergeant Forcum was a major contributor to the Command Post's across-the-board "Excellent" ratings in all graded areas.

Additionally, Sergeant Forcum scored 96 percent on the emergency actions closed-book exam and exceeded the minimum 90 percent standard. She was recognized by the Inspector General as an "exceptional performer" and was the most junior member of seven to receive an IG coin.

"As my most junior and least experienced controller, Brandie participated in various high-visibility higher headquarters exercises, assessment and inspections," said Chief Master Sgt. Jerry Shepherd, 161 ARW Command Post superintendent. "Her performance during each was nothing but stellar and help secure multiple 'Excellent' and 'Outstanding' ratings as well as the successful outcome of non-rated exercises."

Chief Shepherd said he nominated Sergeant Forcum for this award because he wanted to recognize her outstanding duty performance, involvement in unit activities and continuing her military and civilian education.

"Brandie's exceptional job performance, her commitment to the unit and fellow guardsmen, and her continuing self-improvement through education encompass what I believe the Donald Plough award symbolizes and what being a Guardsman is all about," Chief Shepherd said.

Responsible for all legal support for the 161st Air Refueling Wing and the 107th Air Control Squadron, Colonel Conley provides up-to-date training and guidance for commanders and first sergeants on all administrative and disciplinary actions.

Colonel Conley's preparation of wills, powers of attorney and other legal documents for hundreds of Guard members, family members and retirees resulted in savings of more than $250,000 in legal fees.

"It is very humbling to win the Truman Young award," Colonel Conley said. "Major Truman Young was by all accounts a tremendous officer and devoted Guardsman. By coincidence, he was also an Arizona attorney. It is a great honor to be associated with the legacy of Truman Young and Copper 5."

Colonel Conley said he also appreciates the Tempe Chamber of Commerce for their strong support of the 161st ARW and the Arizona National Guard and his leadership for nominating him.

"Lieutenant Colonel Conley epitomes 'Service before Self'," said Lt. Col. Paul Aguirre, 161st Air Refueling Wing chief of staff. "Although he is a traditional Guard member with an extremely busy professional life, he is always responsive to the unit's legal needs 24/7."

Criteria for Maj. Truman Young and Tech. Sgt. Donald Plough Memorial Awards:

- Individuals nominated will have exhibited exceptional duty performance and military bearing.
- The individual will foster esprit de corps through teambuilding, motivating and mentoring others.
- Total dedication to the mission will be their hallmark.
- Individuals will bear loyalty and devotion to country and completely embody the U.S. Air Force Core Values.
- Consideration will be given to individuals whose consistent and sustained performance exceeds minimum standards.
- Community involvement will also be considered since a valued trait of the Citizen Airmen is support of their community.
- Individuals must portray a positive military image and always uphold Air Force and Air National Guard values, policies, standards and traditions.