Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

November 8, 2010 at 7:14am

Reserve airman wins AF-level award

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- He's flown more than 4,000 hours of civilian and military flying time, including 230 combat dispatches and 873 hours of combat time. He helped in the rapid response to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti this year, delivering 97,000 pounds of emergency rations. He's a C-17A Globemaster III instructor aircraft commander with the 728th Airlift Squadron here and one of only two squadron pilots who maintain every C-17 special qualification.

...And he's only 30 years old. 

These are just some of the accomplishments that made Capt. Daniel Gasper stand out from the pack to win the Lance P. Sijan Award, an honor bestowed upon Air Force personnel who represent the highest professional and personal leadership standards. He won the award at the Air Force Command Level in September.

"When I heard I won, I was surprised and deeply honored," said Caption Gasper, a Tacoma native. "I was in great company with good nominees. I'm happy I made it to the AFRC level."

Maj. Tim Davis, Captain Gasper's supervisor, said he couldn't think of anyone more deserving of this award. 

"Dan's a 'go-getter,'" said the 728th AS flight commander. "He's very intelligent, volunteers his time without question, is very enthusiastic about his job and is totally committed to 446th Airlift Wing mission." 

Captain Gasper's commitment dates back to 2001 when he was one of the first 728th AS volunteers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. The captain is currently on orders for his fifth year, gaining more experience in his new role as assistant flight commander. 

"Any time there's a mobility exercise, he's always first to volunteer," said Major Davis. "I've never heard the word "no" come out of his mouth. Captain Gasper volunteers because he wants to and not out of obligation." 

Striving for excellence comes naturally for Captain Gasper. The nine-year Reservist was recently lauded by Air Mobility Command and U.S. Transportation Command officials for his first-class leadership skills and professionalism. The captain was also nominated for the 4th Air Force Airlift Tanker Association Young Leadership Award and the Reserve Officer Association Junior Officer of the Year Award. 

"I've been blessed to have had many opportunities to further my training with the Reserve right off the bat, with the wing's activation," said the captain. "Being activated set me up for high ops tempo situations and gave me a thirst for more training." 

Captain Gasper said his wife, Jess, has been very supportive of his military duties and time away on temporary duty assignments. He said she was proud and excited when she heard he received the award. 

A Boeing 737 first officer for Alaska Airlines, Captain Gasper attained his Federal Aviation Administration certification as an airline transport pilot and Boeing 737 type ratings. He advanced his flight proficiency by attaining his FAA certified flight instructor certificate. In his military career, the captain recently added his qualifications to teach the Instrument Refresher Course and perform airdrop maneuvers with the C-17. 

Major Davis praised Captain Gasper's enthusiasm to always be one crew qualification ahead of where he needed to be and natural ability to motivate peers and supervisors alike. 

"You can't help but feel motivated when you fly with Dan," said Major Davis. "He sets the tone for the flight. He's always up-beat and it's contagious." 

When he's not flying, the captain can be found volunteering at Harverd Elementary School, Parkland, Wash., where his wife teaches. 

Captain Gasper will be adding a new accomplishment to his collection: that of father. He and Jess will be welcoming their first child any day now.     

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