Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. -- On April 16, 2016, I, along with other senior leaders from Air Force Reserve Command, gathered in Jacksonville, Florida to recognize the finest men and women in the Air Force Reserve – our Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2015. Fifteen nominees from across our command representing four categories; Airman, NCO, Senior NCO and First Sergeant, competed to be selected as the Reserve Command’s Outstanding Airmen of the Year. I am bursting with pride as I salute Tech. Sgt. Gilberto Hernandez, 340th Flying Training Group, Joint Base San Antonio -Randolph, Texas, as AFRC’s Outstanding NCO of Year for 2015! Tech. Sgt. Hernandez, along with three other AFRC category winners, will now advance to represent the command at the United States Air Force-level competition for the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2015.
Technical Sgt. Gilberto P. Hernandez was recognized by Air Force Reserve Command and 22nd Air Force as the 2015 Financial Management NCO of the Year. The AFRC FM Inspector General coined Hernandez as a Superior Performer during the 340th Flying Training Group’s Compliance Evaluation Inspection and praised him for top-notch execution and program management. His performance in 2015 exceeded standards and he remained in the top one percent on all AFRC reserve pay office metrics. He led the processing of more than 25,000 military pay transactions with a 98.6 percent accuracy rate—well above the Air Force standard of 95 percent. He developed interagency cross-talk, which resulted in quicker start-pay and mitigated hardships on members. He created Permanent Change of Station/Temporary Duty processes for flight training programs, which expedited $53,000 in pay to students. Hernandez was also pivotal in the development of bonus pay procedures, which helped to eliminate a three month backlog and reduce processing times by 75 percent. He was a key player in implementing the 340th FTG’s Web Defense Military Pay Office, which led to a 100 percent audit ready system. Under his comprehensive pay system oversight, more than 250 pay issues were resolved, reducing Group military pay timeline by more than 15 days. He also revamped pay support to three Joint Base San Antonio units, establishing internal controls and interactive reports which increased efficiency by 20 percent. In 2015, Hernandez earned his associates degree in financial management from the Community College of the Air Force. Additionally, he completed two continuing education courses with universal class writing systems. In support of community involvement, Hernandez developed a youth investment program, led a 30 member team in the clean-up of the grounds in and around Bandera Trails, selflessly served military travelers by volunteering 20 hours to help run the San Antonio United Service Organization and teamed with 61 members to raised $7,500 for Operation Warm Heart, which provided food and gifts to JBSA Randolph families.
While Technical Sgt. Hernandez captured the top spot in AFRC’s NCO category, I’m also very proud of our three other category nominees from the 22nd Air Force – Senior Airman Kersten Englund (Airman Category), 27th APS, Minn.-St Paul IAP Reserve Station; Senior Master Sgt. Dain Payton (Senior NCO Category), 908th MXS, Maxwell AFB, Alabama; and, MSgt Courtney Shank (First Sergeant Category), 302th ASTS, Peterson AFB, Colorado. Allow me to showcase these three 22nd Air Force Outstanding Airmen nominees and please join me in celebrating their nominations and congratulating them on their successful careers thus far in the United States Air Force. Go Double Deuce!
Senior Airman Keirsten L. Englund is an Air Transportation Journeyman assigned to the 27th Aerial Port Squadron at the 934th Airlift Wing, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Reserve Station, Minnesota. During 2015, Englund performed at a Non Commissioned Officer level when she led a ramp load team of 15 Airmen in delivering 4.5 tons of cargo, 13 helicopters and numerous other pallet loads. She teamed with seven Airmen to expedite the shipment of an A-10 engine to a hostile forward operating base, with delivery occurring in less than 72 hours. She directed salvage operations, which involved the preparation and certification of damaged radar stands and power plants worth $65 million. As a master equipment operator, she was selected to move MRAPs and STRYKERS, CENTCOM’s number one priority to mitigate IED exposure. She accelerated the movement of 26 State Department pallets which enabled the build-up of a forward Base Tactical Operations Center. Englund fast tracked the movement of 140 Patriot Missiles, having them inspected and flight ready in less than 36 hours. Coordinating with four base agencies, she organized Reaper recovery operations with four base agencies, which resulted in the recovery of $8 million of drone equipment in less than two hours. In 2015, Englund completed 13 hours toward her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science. She also attended 22 Professional Development Seminars, deployed with the 386 AEW Honor Guard in support of 11 ceremonies, orchestrated a “Feed My Starving Children” relief effort and donated 10 hours per week to after-school programs.
Master Sgt. Cortney L. Shank is the First Sergeant assigned to the 302nd Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Peterson AFB, Colorado. In 2015, Shank presided over the 302nd First Sergeant Council, where she represented 1,760 airmen and imparted wisdom amongst 10 1st Sergeants. She coordinated six fundraising events, prepared and reviewed 30+ Enlisted Performance Reports and mentored new First Sergeants. She conducted the first ever medical squadron open ranks inspection, validating Air Force standards for 84 members. She structured the 2015 Annual Awards banquet, which included coordinating and ensuring protocol for more than 700 attendees. Shank organized the third annual wing warrior challenge, which boosted esprit de corps among the 90 participants and raised $450 for the wing. She judiciously advised her Commander on more than 20 UCMJ actions and served as a trusted confidant, helping to resolve sensitive issues of abuse, harassment and discrimination. As a problem solver, she processed 14 non-participating squadron member separations. She served as a coach and mentor, guiding six peers through a vigorous 12-week fitness program. In order to invigorate recognition programs and enhance communications for 250 members in two squadrons, Shank established a formal Commanders Call program. She facilitated conflict resolution sessions to help neutralize negative issues and raise productivity in two units. She also served as a life skills specialist, helping four Airmen with self-improvement opportunities. Shank is actively pursuing a bachelor's degree. She is a pillar of fitness and she motivated and paced two people during fitness assessment. She is actively involved in Base and Community events and dedicated 60 hours in 2015 to fund raising activities, which raised $1860. She established a program for low income Airmen, volunteered 120 hours at local schools and coordinated delivery of angel tree gifts to eight families.
Senior Master Sgt. Dain E. Payton is the Fabrication Flight Chief, 908th Maintenance Squadron, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. In 2015, Payton backfilled as maintenance squadron chief for 365 days during which time he led 132 personnel with eight different Air Force Specialty Codes. He penned the Al Udeid Air Base C-130 Job Safety Training Outline Hazardous Communications Plan and received an “Excellent" from the 379 Air Expeditionary Wing Safety Office. He partnered with the major command contracting office to secure a $265 thousand blast room, which saved $41 thousand in annual expenditures. Payton validated 54 Management Internal Control Toolset checklists with 2,205 entries, which led to a “Perfect” AFRC capstone. He led a C-130 Operation Inherent Resolve/Operation Freedom’s Sentinel maintenance team, which generated 592 sortie over a 1,326 hour period. He collaborated with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron to secure $56,000 in flight line latrine replacements, which enhanced the quality of life for 433 deployed members. Payton oversaw AF Central Command Unit Type Code right-sizing, which included verifying 689 items and identifying 49 shortages. He aided C-21 Operations by directing Mode IV Identify Friend or Foe checks on 52 Gulf Coalition Council/SECAF missions. In 2015, Payton was awarded an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force in Aircraft Fabrication. He enrolled in Senior Enlisted Joint PME II and completed 16 hours toward a Bachelor of Science degree in human resource management. In the category of base and community service, Payton stabilized a car crash victim, choreographed the 746th Aircraft Maintenance Unit BBQ, headed a fallen warrior detail, volunteered for a First Lady of the United States visit and served Upward Youth Sports programs by organizing youth soccer tryouts and establishing teams. Payton received the 2015 Alabama Governor’s Award for being the top Reserve enlisted member in the state.