162nd Wing Recognizes Year's Finest
By 162nd Wing Public Affairs Office, 162nd Wing
/ Published June 07, 2016
TUCSON, Ariz. -- The 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard recognized its annual award winners from 2015 in a ceremony at the Tucson International Airport June 5.
The ceremony recognized outstanding individuals and teams that contributed to the state and nation.
Maj. Gen. Edward P. Maxwell, commander of the Arizona Air National Guard, presided over the ceremony, shaking every winner's hand.
"This has been a great year for the 162nd," said Maxwell in his remarks to the Airmen. "Thank you for being part of the team, thank you for serving, thank you for being part of the premiere wing in the Air National Guard. Nobody does as much as you do here in the 162nd anywhere within the Air National Guard."
This year's winners:
Brig. Gen. Ronald L. Kurth Field Grade Officer of the Year: Lt. Col Chris Schmelzer, 162nd Medical Group
Maj. Gen. Donald L. Owens Company Grade Officer of the Year: Capt. Anthony Peplinski, 162nd Maintenance Group
Maj. Gen. Donald E. Morris Senior Non-commissioned Officer and State Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Master Sgt. Sean Pierce, 162nd Maintenance Group (also won at state level)
Outstanding Airman: Staff Sgt. Brian Hatley, 162nd Operations Group
Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Donald Bates, 162nd Maintenance Group
Command Chief Award: Tech. Sgt. Rose Cormier, 162nd Operations Group
162nd Wing First Sergeant of the Year, State First Sergeant of the Year and selected to compete for one of 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for the Air Force: Senior Master Sgt. Jack Minaya, 214th Reconnaissance Group
Honor Guard Member of the Year: Master Sgt. Frank Enfinger, awarded posthumously
Outstanding Section of the Year: Maintenance Inspection Element
Instructor Pilot of the Year: Maj. Andrew Wittke, 195th Fighter Squadron
MQ-1 Pilot of the Year: Lt. Col. Matthew
MQ-1 Intelligence Operations Specialist of the Year: Senior Airman Dillon
MQ-1 Sensor Operator of the Year: Master Sgt. Raymond
Col. John C. McNeill Volunteer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Charmaine Pozo, 214th Reconnaissance Group
Outstanding Team Award: Fatality Search and Recovery Team
Top Squadron Award: The 195th Fighter Squadron and the 195th Aircraft Maintenance Unit
As many wing award winners are full-time employees, special recognition is also given to the drill-status Guardsmen who make a particularly profound impact during their limited work with the wing.
Airman 1st Class Jacqueline Ochoa, 162nd Operations Group
Master Sgt. Christopher, 214th Reconnaissance Group
Tech. Sgt. Scott Coffey, 162nd Maintenance Group
Tech Sgt. Phillip Butkins, 162nd Mission Support Group
Lt. Col. Chris Schmelzer, 162nd Medical Group
Staff Sgt. Micah Hill, 162nd Wing staff, public affairs
The 162nd Wing is no stranger to national awards and this year is no exception. The 162nd received several major command or Air National Guard awards.
Outstanding Unit Award: 162nd Wing Detachment 2, Aerospace Control Alert.
ANG & AFRC AFE NCO of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Rose Cormier
ANG & AFRC AFE SNCO of the Year: Master Sgt. Lorenzo Romo
Air Education and Training Command Outstanding Air Reserve Component Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Michael Balserak
Air Education and Training Command Outstanding Air Reserve Component Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance NCO of the Year: Master Sgt. Nerissa Fijal, now commissioned as a second lieutenant.
2015 Outstanding Air National Guard Financial Manager NCO of the Year: Master Sgt. Josh Williams
2015 Outstanding Air National Guard Financial Manager Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Regina Mendez
In addition to the traditional categories, Commander's Recognition awards are given to teams and individuals who deserve honorable mention but did not win in other categories.
Maj. Frank Lusher, 162nd Operations Group
214th Information Assurance Team
Master Sgt. Rick Slouha, 162nd Maintenance Group
Master Sgt. Aulos Burr, 162nd Maintenance Group
Senior Airman Bonnie Ayala, 162nd Mission Support Group
162nd Medical Group
162nd Wing Public Affairs Office
Several service members were also given awards by various local and national organizations.
The Military Affairs Committee Bill Valenzuela Award for Citizen Airman of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Michael Weisbrod, 162nd Mission Support Group
Air Force Association Junior Airman Award: Airman 1st Class Jennifer Bigelow, 162nd Operations Group
A1C Manual C. Aquino Ground Safety Award: Staff Sgt. Josh Hegemann
162nd Air Guardians Committee Outstanding Guardsman of the Year: Senior Airman Josefina Sabori, 162nd Mission Support Group
Air Guardian Challenge El Tour de Tucson Award: Tech. Sgt. Eric Larson, 162nd Maintenance Group and Tech. Sgt. Todd Stuve, 162nd Operations Group