Three here win Communicator awards

By Lorin T. Smith/Madigan Healthcare System Strategic Communication Office on February 10, 2011

Two Airmen and one civilian have helped put the 627th Communications Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on the Air Mobility Command map.

Senior Airman Jason Marshall, Tech. Sgt. Jean-Pierre Howard and Charles "Wes" Hawthorne were named winners of the Air Mobility Command 2010 Information Dominance and Gen. John P. Jumper Excellence in Warfighting Integration Awards last month. 

The awards recognize the 627th staff members for their technical competency and ability to maintain McChord Field's myriad communications systems. 

"These high-caliber cyber warriors and organizations can be justly proud of their accomplishments," said Col. Mitchel H. Butikofer, AMC's director of communications and chief information officer. 

In total, 37 awards were distributed among AMC's squadrons.

Hawthorne was named the Outstanding Civilian Manager award winner, Howard received the Outstanding Cyber Surety NCO award and Marshall took home the Outstanding Cyber Systems Operations Airman achievement. Howard is Marshall's NCO, and both work for Hawthorne, who is 627th's deputy director and chief of Plans and Resources. 

"A lot of work goes beyond an eight-hour day, and to tell you the honest truth, dedication has got to be the key for getting this award," said Hawthorne.

The 627th ABG has a large mission of overseeing all communication systems and traffic that occurs on McChord Field. This includes supporting McChord's network systems, aircraft control and landing systems that help get planes off the ground, land-based radio communications, base weather systems; even communications for when the president comes to town. 

"We have more fiber (optics) on this base; we could probably light up Tacoma," said Hawthorne. 

Howard's job is to protect all unclassified electronic information that comes in and goes out of McChord Field. His unit is responsible for the network's security by testing its vulnerability levels and detecting or stopping electronic terrorism threats or attacks. 

"Threats can come from anyone and anywhere. From a 13-year-old across the street to China, and everything in between," said Howard. 

He believes he received his award mostly for helping create a new cyber-threat remediation program and receiving grades of "Outstanding" on the most recent unclassified and classified command cyber-readiness inspections. 

"Everything we are doing is producing something positive, and the network we created with that new program allowed us to do as well as we did in the inspection, and it didn't go unnoticed by AMC," said Howard.

Communications construction projects on McChord Field run through Hawthorne's office. Last year, he acquired more than $7 million to upgrade McChord Field's communications infrastructure. He is most proud of the new state-of-the-art manhole induction system, and looking forward to getting started renovating McChord Field's chaplain's support facility. 

"I'm a project manager by nature, and I think I go the extra step by wanting to see things happen from inception to completion," said Hawthorne. "I don't want to have a job completed to satisfy a current requirement, but I like to think about future expansion to save tax dollars."

While both have been recognized by their supervisors as being the "best of the best" in Air Force communications, they feel they were just doing their job. 

"We've developed a lot of new things, found ways to think outside the box, make difficult tasks easier, and started thinking of different tools that will allow us to accomplish the same goals more efficiently and with less people," said Howard. "You never think about winning being in your own bubble, and you never think how you will rack and stack with the rest of the people in the command and the Air Force." 

He will be taking his new award with him when he deploys to Afghanistan in May for the seventh time in his career. Marshall received the award while deployed. 

Hawthorne said that even though the award is presented annually, being recognized as the best civilian and military personnel among 13 other AMC bases is something to remember. "This shows we are quality personnel satisfying the needs of others and we know exactly what we want and make it happen, no matter what," he said.

The three award winners will now compete in their respective categories for the best in the Air Force.