Guardsmen are best of the best

By Kimberly D. Burke, Western Air Defense Sector Public Affairs on June 30, 2016

The Western Air Defense Sector has been recognized by Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region - First Air Force (CONR-1AF) as the Command and Control Unit of the Year. In addition, three Washington Air National Guardsmen assigned to the WADS have been recognized as outstanding performers.

"These winners competed against nominees from across the entire enterprise, so the competition was extremely tough," said Lt. Gen. William H. Etter, AFNORTH commander.  "These members are the best of the best."

Major Antony Braun won the Field Grade Officer of the Year, Capt. Tyler Royster won Command and Control (C2) Officer Warrior of the Year, and Tech. Sgt. Ryc Cyr won Command and Control (C2) Enlisted Warrior of the Year.  

"Winning three individual awards and the unit award is a testimony to the caliber of our Washington Air National Guard members and their ability to effectively execute the unit's federal air defense mission," said Col. Gregor J. Leist, WADS commander.

The 225th Air Defense Group commander, Col. William A. Krueger, emphasized how important Braun's execution as senior air battle manager is to the unit's mission.  "Braun executed over 230 alert hours with seventeen active air defense operations resulting in 388 air tasking order missions during high visibility VIP movements and national events in 2015."

During the awards presentation, Leist expressed how proud he was of Royster's air battle manager performance.  Royster deployed for six months in support of Operation Inherent Resolve where he controlled over 540 combat hours and oversaw 35 strike packages with a hundred percent aircraft accountability.  Operation Inherent Resolve's purpose is to conduct targeted air strikes of Iraq and Syria as part of the comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

"A key factor in Cyr's selection as the C2 Enlisted Warrior of the Year was that he developed and delivered, as the mission planning cell lead, over forty tactical level guidance documents that supported the execution of over fifteen hundred friendly sorties during Exercise Vigilant Shield 2015," said Major Eric Corder, 225th ADG director of staff.  Vigilant Shield is a bi-national exercise which emphasizes an integrated American and Canadian exercise program to support respective national strategy for North America's defense.  

The Western Air Defense Sector is headquartered on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  Staffed by active-duty Washington Air National Guardsmen and a Canadian Forces detachment, the unit supports the North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD) integrated warning and attack assessment missions and the U.S. Northern Command's (USNORTHCOM) homeland defense mission.  The WADS is responsible for air sovereignty and counter-air operations over the western United States and directs a variety of assets to defend 2.2 million square miles of land and sea.