Staff Sgt. Tanner Apple, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit dedicated crew chief, was awarded the Thomas M. Barnes award August 13, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
The Thomas M. Barnes award recognizes the top dedicated crew chief in the Air Force for the year. Prospective awardees must be nominated by their leadership, after which their record of accomplishments are submitted to be judged at multiple levels.
“Staff Sgt. Apple has distinguished himself as an outstanding aircraft maintenance professional performing at an extremely high level,” said Maj. Edward Romero, 756th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “His excellent work ethic, drive and expertise sets him apart from his peers. Apple is a force multiplier, and he is making his peers step-up their performance.”
Apple, who performs maintenance on the F-16 Fighting Falcon, remains humble about the honor.
“When I discovered that I was being put in for the Crew Chief of the Year award I was surprised,” Apple said. “I actually wasn’t aware until my package was already submitted. When I found out I won at the Air Force-level, I was shocked.”
Crew chiefs direct aircraft maintenance crews and ensure that all inspections and maintenance procedures are performed correctly and safely. Dedicated crew chiefs are assigned to a single aircraft and are singularly responsible not only for ensuring the successful completion of its maintenance, but for improving it as well.
“I am always willing to take on more responsibility and learn new tasks to help out where I can,” Apple said. “When you ask what it takes to win, I would say [it would be] to always continue to reach for more.”
Being among a select few to earn the DCC title, Apple’s award sets him apart from an already esteemed cadre of Airmen.
“In the 756th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron building, we have a quote printed in our hallways: ‘Through these halls walk the greatest maintainers in the world,’” Romero said. “I believe Staff Sgt. Apple not only exemplifies our quote, he quantifies it.”
Apple believes that his leadership was essential to his success. He says he strives to lead his own Airmen with the same values and make similar contributions to training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen.
“I have never had leadership who has tried to help push me for success more than here at the 309th AMU,” Apple said. “Now it is my turn to give back and continue to grow into a great mentor and leader like the individuals here.”
His advice to other Airmen seeking recognition is to persevere regardless of the challenges they face.
“No matter what road blocks you come across, jump over them,” Apple said. “Don’t settle for being average. Strive to be the best that you can be and I promise you will get the recognition you deserve.”