WASHINGTON — The 2009 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year were recognized in a special ceremony during the 2009 Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 14 at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy hosted the evening's events that highlighted this year's 12 Airmen who represent more than 400,000 enlisted members of the Air Force active, Guard and Reserve Forces.
The 2009 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year included a Hill Air Force Base technical sergeant and are:
>> Staff Sgt. Johanna S. Aviles, a network operations center technician assigned to the National Reconnaissance Office in Los Angeles.
>> Senior Master Sgt. Mary A. Bechdel, the superintendent of operations for the 13th Intelligence Squadron from Beale Air Force Base, Calif.
>> Master Sgt. Tyrone F. Bingham, a host aviation resource manager at the 170th Operations Support Squadron from Offutt AFB, Neb.
>> Staff Sgt. Channel H. Bolton-Scholl, an aircraft maintenance technician assigned to the 446th Maintenance Squadron at McChord AFB, Wash.
>> Master Sgt. John T. Carter, the non-commissioned officer in charge of security forces resources for the 100th Security Forces Squadron at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England.
>> Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Herrera, the non-commissioned officer in charge of 375th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight at Scott AFB, Ill.
>> Tech. Sgt. Benjamin P. Horton, an EOD technician with the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron from Hill AFB.
>> Tech. Sgt. Jennifer S. Laufer, a chaplain assistant assigned to the 42nd Air Base Wing from Maxwell AFB, Ala.
>> Tech. Sgt. Marisol M. Lozada, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 27th Special Operations Medical Group Mental Health Flight and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Clinic at Cannon AFB, N.M.
>> Master Sgt. Christopher W. Pollock, the chief of the horizontal section for the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan.
>> Senior Airman Alexander W. Royal, a tactical air control party member with the 13th Air Support Squadron at Fort Carson, Colo.
>> Senior Master Sgt. Jeffery E. Steagall, the manager of communications and information systems inspections for the Air Force Space Command Office of the Inspector General at Peterson AFB, Colo.
"These Airmen represent all that is good about our United States Air Force," said Gen. Carrol H. "Howie" Chandler, the Air Force vice chief of staff. "This evening's reception gives us an opportunity to introduce them to Air Force leadership, and they will represent the men and women of the Air Force very well."
The Airmen were chosen from nominations made by all Air Force commands, separate operating agencies, direct reporting units, the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. The chief master sergeant of the Air Force, a general officer and selected major command command chiefs made up the selection board to recognize the Outstanding Airmen of the Year, a program that began in 1956 by the Air Force Association.
The evening's events showcased the Airmen of the Year, but they said they believe the individual award represents all the people around them.
"I had a lot of support from my leadership," Steagall said. "When I was deployed (for five months with the 332nd Air Communications Squadron at an air base in Southwest Asia) I had fantastic folks who worked with and for me, and I had a great commander over there. It made it enjoyable to go to work. When I got back from being deployed, my chief sat me down and said that I had done a great job over there and we want you to keep putting your best foot forward every day. I couldn't have asked for a better group of folks who funneled me along and supported me every step of the way."
But even with the support of co-workers and family, becoming one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year was unfathomable to this year's group of Airmen.
"When I first came in 19 years ago, I would look at folks who won this award and it was something I never thought would be possible," Steagall said. "It is something you want to aspire to. It can give you a focal point when you are going through your own career. To me, (the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year) was always a source of inspiration, and I hope I can do that for the folks who are coming behind me."
Chief Roy said these Airmen demonstrate the very best of enlisted Airmen, whether they are active duty, Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve.
"These brave Airmen have kept the streets of Baghdad safe, captured terrorists, built airfields in Afghanistan, reported threats to coalition convoys, increased the (MQ-1) Predator's capability, controlled airpower to capture the enemy, evacuated Soldiers from a firefight, reinvigorated the nuclear inspection processes, spiritually cared for wounded service members, ensured combat crews were ready to fight, and built better medical processes for our patients," the chief said. "Together they have completed dozens of credit hours toward college degrees. They are also good neighbors and great Americans who give their time and talents to the schools and community groups. These outstanding Airmen will continue to be great Air Force ambassadors around the world."
"Around the world, there is great respect for our nation's military and for our Air Force," Chandler said. "Our ability to provide consistent global vigilance, reach and power helps underpin our nation's security. These key capabilities provide assurance to our allies and our partners, and deter potential aggressors. No matter how impressive our machines and our technology are, I believe our enlisted corps is the envy of militaries around the world. These 12 are American Airmen, they are warriors, and they have answered their nation's call. Whatever successes we achieved in our Air Force, we owe it to these Airmen and the men and women they represent; individuals who understood that they are part of something larger than themselves or the United States Air Force in all that they we do."