TUCSON, Ariz. --
An ocean of uniformed servicemembers filled chairs and stood lining the walls in the massive Hanger 10 here Feb. 7 during the 162nd Fighter Wing's 2008 Annual Awards ceremony.
The ceremony honored 44 wing members and six teams for outstanding contributions and personal development. It began with young Ms. Baleigh Schlesinger singing the National Anthem.
"Holy smokes, what a voice," said Lt. Col. Dan Summers. "I can't believe Baleigh is 13. She was amazing; such a huge voice coming from such a little girl."
After hearing the National Anthem sung with such passion and beauty as to shame the most talented American Idol TV show contestants, the wing observed a moment to remember the 10 former wing members who passed away last year; Ed Hurd, Jim Barr, Steve Fuentes, Jerry Veltman, Charlie Lees, Bob Pearson, James Gaare, Matthew Merritt, Leroy Foss and Dale Hansen.
"I promise you I'm always there when your heart is filled with sorrow and despair," the words of "Footprints in the Sand" sang by Ms. Schlesinger reverberating throughout the Hanger.
As if on queue, an F-16 engine roared nearby punctuating the memorial tribute before the award recipients were called up by name, in turn, to accept their awards.
Among the day's highlights, three crew chiefs were recognized with the AETC Ground/Weapons "Safety Well Done" Award for stopping an F-16 that was rolling down the flightline out-of-control due to a malfunction.
The 162nd Team Performance Award was then presented to the Medical Group for, among other things, their 98 percent rating during the recent Heath Services Inspection - the highest in history for an Air National Guard unit.
Fourteen individuals were recognized for earning their Associates Degree in Applied Science from the Community College of the Air Force.
Next, the wing recognized the outstanding performance of one individual in each rank category, and also the outstanding section of the year.
Airfield Management received the Aquino Ground Safety Memorial Award for ensuring zero lost airplanes in 12,000 flights and 16,000 flying hours over the year.
Seven more individuals were recognized with the Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding achievement and meritorious service to the United States.
In honor of the award recipients Ms. Schlesinger once again graced the audience's ears by singing "God Bless the America."
The ceremony ended with a first. A "Year in Review" video featuring all of the wing's activities for 2008. Members watched as the wing's history for the preceding year unfolded in front of them with the Steak Fry, the Holocaust remembrance event, water survival training, Tech. Sgt. Chandra Smith's performance with Tops in Blues, the 9G Force Fitness program, the Weapons and Tactics Conference, the Security Forces re-deployment and Brig. Gen. Rick Moisio's fini-flight.
As the Honor Guard retired the colors Senior Master Sgt. Shane Clark sang "America the Beautiful" to conclude the 2008 Award Ceremony and another great year at the 162nd Fighter Wing.
To view the "Year in Review" video visit www.162fw.ang.af.mil/news/videos
2008 Awards and Recipients
"Safety Well Done" Award
Tech. Sgt. Jaime Aviles
Tech. Sgt. Daniel Tibbitts
Staff Sgt. Michael Markve
162nd Fighter Wing Team Performance Award
Community College of the Air Force
Associate Degree in Applied Science
Chief Master Sgt. Nikki Uremovich
Master Sgt. Terry Ladd
Master Sgt. Vincent Muskiet
Tech. Sgt. Livia Moreno
Tech. Sgt. James Mulcahey
Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Wallace
Staff Sgt. Carlos Almandos
Staff Sgt. Oscar Corrales
Staff Sgt. Edmundo Delvalle
Staff Sgt. Eric Hall
Staff Sgt. Bradley Krans
Staff Sgt. Israel Montoya
Staff Sgt. Tracy Schultz
Staff Sgt. Raymond Smith
Outstanding Personnel of the Year
Lt. Col. Andrew Macdonald
Outstanding Senior NCO
Senior Master Sgt. Peter Carlson
Tech. Sgt. Angela Walz
Senior Airman Brian Henry
Outstanding Section of the Year
International Military Student Office
Maj. Gen. Donald E. Morris Leadership Award
Chief Master Sgt. Mary Minter
Commanders Special Recognition Award
Lt. Col. Daniel Grimwood
Maj. Windy Hendrick
Tech. Sgt. Michael Carpenter
Maj. Gen. Donald L. Owens Junior Officer Award
Capt. Gabe Johnson
Aquino Ground Safety Memorial Award
Air Field Management
John H. "Square Deal" McNeill Award
Lt. Col. Mark Harting
Family Readiness Group Volunteer of the Year
AMVETS Post 770 Ladies Auxiliary
162FW Minuteman Committee Employer of the Year
Arizona State Prison Complex
162FW Minuteman Committee Guardsman of the Year
Senior Master Sgt. Harold Chandler
162FW Minuteman Committee Scholarship
Tech. Sgt. Thomas Skrentney
"Jimmy Jet" Volunteer Of The Year
Master Sgt. Roy Ertl
"Jimmy Jet" Kurth Memorial Scholarship Award
Ms. Megan Berge
"Jimmy Jet" Pamela J. Long Scholarship Award
Ms. Hannah Berge
First Sergeant of the Year
Master Sgt. Gary Jack
F-16 Instructor Pilot of the Year
Maj. Patrick McClelland
Operations Appreciation Award
Tucson Metropolitan Chamber Of Commerce Award
Tech. Sgt. Lesleigh Smith
162nd Fighter Wing
Meritorious Achievement Award
Lt. Col. Mark Emshwiller
Lt. Col. Erik Salomonson
Air Force Meritorious Service Medal
Maj. William Arnold
Maj. William Kinnison, Jr.
Maj. Erik Houston
Chief Master Sgt. Ralph Pacheco
Senior Master Sgt. Illario Talvy
Senior Master Sgt. Charles Kilmer
Master Sgt. Brett Hart