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Outstanding airmen recognized

11th Annual Washington Air National Guard Awards Banquet

Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Rose M Lust, 141st Air Refueling Wing

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(Photo: Members of the 141st Communications Flight pose onstage while accepting the award for Outstanding Flight of the Year during the 11th annual awards banquet Feb. 8 at the Spokane Convention Center.)

"Dressed to the nines," members of the Washington Air National Guard celebrated their fellow airmen's accomplishments at the 11th Annual Washington Air National Guard Awards Banquet in the Spokane Convention Center Feb. 8.

With nearly 400 people in attendance, the 141st Air Refueling Wing hosted the event to recognize outstanding WA ANG airmen and their achievements throughout 2019. Nine individuals -- one flight, and one squadron -- were recognized and received the coveted eagle trophies for their respective categories.

The WA ANG units that competed were from the 141st Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base; 194th Wing, Camp Murray; and the Western Air Defense Sector, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM).

Col. Gent Welsh, commander of the WA ANG, welcomed attendees by applauding the efforts and sacrifices made by the members and their families. Welsh sent out a heartfelt thanks to the event coordinators and introduced the keynote speaker, Col. Jason Lamb, Director of Intelligence, Analysis, and Innovation at Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas.

"For every award winner, there's probably another 50 airmen out there who would've deserved it just as much," said Welsh. "For those award winners, their family members, and the folks who put them up for those awards, I truly appreciate everything you've done the past year."

Before announcing the award winners, Col. Larry Gardner, 141st ARW commander, showcased an act of heroism by airmen from Team Fairchild. November 23, 2019, the crew of Expo91, piloted by Lt. Col. Mike Harris and Capt. Charles Roark from the 141st ARW and Senior Airman Kendall Bryant, a 92nd ARW boom operator, answered the call to help a fellow aviator in distress. The crew was an integral part of the successful rescue of a lost visual flight rules aircraft N6122B, a pilot only rated to fly in good visual conditions.

"Their efforts were nothing short of heroic for saving a man's life," said Gardner. "Bringing the lost and severely iced aircraft to safety, saving the life of the pilot who unbeknownst to him while in icing and instrument conditions -- had almost impacted mountainous terrain on multiple occasions and were able to get him out safely." Gardner recognized the crew with an Air Force Commendation medal for their heroism, and appreciation letters and coins from the Seattle Air Route Air Traffic Control and Federal Aviation Administration.

After dinner, the highlight of the evening came when Welsh presented the nominees, who walked through a sword cordon manned by Chief Master Sergeants. Each nominee was received by cheers and unit chants, while presented to the crowd on stage, and given a medallion and certificate.

After the excitement settled, the keynote speaker encouraged airmen to keep building upon their achievements by encompassing key pieces of successful leadership. "You can't lead people unless you know them, you just can't. How can you be effective, how can you build a relationship with someone you don't know? You can't," said Lamb. "You have to know yourself. It's ludicrous that a man should lead others who cannot lead himself."

The speech went on to convey that a vital part of leadership is self-awareness and self-reflection. Lamb imparted three key pieces to successful leadership, "Learn from reflecting on your experiences; seek outside sources of information, more objective sources hopefully; find a coach or mentor that can be a trusted accountability partner."

In closing, Lamb said, "To be the leader that your people need, begin with understanding who you are. Seek that next mountain, never be satisfied with who you are and always try to be better. Encourage those around you to be better versions of themselves. That is my hope for you, thank for your service to the State and Nation, I am truly grateful."

The Washington Air National Guard annual award winners are:

Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Tyler Shoemaker, Tracking Instructor, 225th Air Defense Squadron

Senior Airman Tyler A. Shoemaker is an Instructor Tracking Technician in the Air Picture Management Flight for the 225th Air Defense Squadron, JBLM. Shoemaker provides near real-time reporting on tracks of interest as part of the Western Air Defense Sector's mission of "Guarding America's Skies" 24/7 covering nearly 73 percent of the United States.

He is responsible to the Air Surveillance Officer for timely detection, accurately classifying targets, and identifying all airborne tracks within the North American Aerospace Defense Command and its Continental United States Region.

Shoemaker is from Chehalis and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Martin's University, Lacey, in 2015. He entered the Washington Air National Guard in August 2016 and achieved honor graduate in Basic Military Training.

He also holds two Command and Control Battle Management Operator qualifications, and in 2018, was selected as an Active Guard Reserve member for the 225th Air Defense Squadron.

Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Matthew Ivy, Intelligence Analyst, 111th Air Support Operations Squadron

Tech. Sgt. Matthew David Ivy is the All-Source Intelligence Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge. In this position, he is responsible for the training, mentoring, and supervision of all enlisted Intelligence Analysts. Ivy maintains a thorough understanding of Global Situational Awareness, Air Support Operations Center operations, adversary equipment and tactics, and friendly equipment, procedures, and techniques. He instructs and evaluates Air Support Operations members in tactics, radio proficiency, and field skills and trains all unit personnel on friendly and adversarial ground, surface-to-air, and air threats; as well as intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and limitations. Additionally, he assists in management and creation of simulation operations.

Ivy was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and is a graduate of South Barber High School in Kiowa, Kansas; he started his military career in the Washington Air National Guard in January 2009. Sgt. Ivy graduated from Tech School in January 2010 where he was recognized as the capstone exercise top performer.

Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Master Sgt. Ponz Daniel Aboy, Chief of Weapons, 116th Air Support Operations Squadron

Master Sgt. Ponze Daniel I. Aboy is the Chief of Weapons and Tactics assigned to the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS), Camp Murray. Aboy enlisted in the United States Air Force July 2003 from his hometown of Renton. During his tenure in Texas, he progressed to the rank of staff sergeant and earned his JTAC, JTAC-Instructor, and JTAC evaluator qualifications.

In 2010, Aboy was reassigned to the 25th ASOS, Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, and progressed to the rank of master sergeant where he served as the JTAC Program Manager and JTAC Standards and Evaluations Program Manager. In March 2018, Aboy was granted early release from active-duty under Palace Chase and swore into the Washington Air National Guard in Active Guard Reserve status.

He has deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2016, he deployed as the Wing Weapons Officer to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel and Operation Resolute Support.

First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. Jennifer Meier, 141st Maintenance Squadron

Master Sgt. Jennifer A. Meier is the first sergeant for the 141st Maintenance Squadron, Fairchild Air Force Base. She advises senior leadership and other senior enlisted members on policy and squadron members. She leads airmen in professional development, morale and Air Force standards.

Meier entered the Air National Guard in May 2000. Her previous duties include F-16 Engine technician, C-130 and HH-60 Maintenance Scheduler, F-16 Engine Technician, F-16 Engine Manager, and Security Forces Squadron First Sergeant.

She previously served in the California and Alaska Air National Guards.

Honor Guard Member of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Shane Tuck, First Sergeant, 141st Mission Support Group

Senior Master Sgt. Shane Tuck entered the Air Force in January 1999. He graduated from the Aircraft Communication/Navigation Systems course at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, in July 1999. In 2003, he won the John L. Levitow Award while attending Airman Leadership School. After 11 years in the active-duty Air Force, he joined the Washington Air National Guard in November 2009.

Tuck spent 16 years in the aircraft maintenance career field before becoming a first sergeant. His background includes various challenging and rewarding duties such as, NCOIC of Training for over 100 base honor guard personnel, deployed shop chief, and Air Force Master Instructor. In 2018, Senior Master Sgt. Tuck won the Wing and State First Sergeant of the Year Sergeant awards.

He has deployed in support of Operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. Prior to his current position, he served as first sergeant for the 141st Security Forces Squadron.

Civilian of the Year: Ms. Marcia Richard, Director of Psychological Health, 141st Air Refueling Wing

Recruiting and Retention Manager of the Year: Master Sgt. Jeremy Montgomery, Washington Air National Guard

Master Sgt. Jeremy S. "Monte" Montgomery is an Air National Guard Recruiting and Retention Manager at Fairchild AFB. As Recruiting and Retention Manager, he presides over the end strength mission for the 141 ARW and tenant units.

Montgomery earned his maintenance badge at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and while deployed at Gioia Del Colle Air Base in Italy. While stationed at Andersen Air Base, he achieved status as a munitions inspector and carried that title to Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

He traveled to 37 different countries while assigned as an entertainer and technician with Tops In Blue, before returning back to Hill Air Base. He then pursued a career in Air Force Recruiting while on active-duty 2005-2007. He then joined the Air National Guard in 2007 as a Structures troop and later returned to recruiting for the state of Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska, Oregon and Washington Air Guard.

He was formerly the Recruiting and Retention Superintendent for Oregon before transferring to his home state to join the recruiting team at the 141 ARW.

Production Recruiter and Retainer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Cassie Kennedy, Washington Air National Guard

Company Grade Officer of the Year: 1st Lt. James Hughes, Mission Systems Flight Commander, 225th Support Squadron

First Lt. James Hughes is the Mission Systems Flight Commander at the Western Air Defense Sector (WADS). He oversees all local maintenance actions on the Battle Control Center's information systems in support of NORAD's no-fail mission.

He is also responsible for the coordination, recording and reporting of all external maintenance actions with the FAA and DISA across 73 percent of the continental United States. He acts as the Cyber Duty Officer for the Battle Staff to facilitate all support and mission systems activities for the WADS Commander.

Before commissioning, Hughes was a technical sergeant in the Cyber Transport career field for 12 years. His duties included sustainment of network infrastructure, cryptographic equipment, and deployable switching systems in a fixed and deployed environment. He maintained and operated systems through effective troubleshooting, repair, diagnostics and system performance analysis.

In 2014, he was named the NCO of the Year for the Western Air Defense Sector, and in 2016, he graduated Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, garnering the Distinguished Graduate Award.

Outstanding Flight of the Year: 141st Communications Flight, 141st Air Refueling Wing

Outstanding Squadron of the Year: 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, 194th Wing

Spirit Award: 141st Air Refueling Wing

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