AFMC honors top Airmen

Air Force Material Command annual awards nominees are joined in the Early Years Gallery of the National Museum of the Air Force here, by Lt. Gen. Robert McMurry, AFMC commander, and Patricia M. Young, AFMC executive director, during the command’s annual awards banquet, March 6, 2019. Active duty and civilian Airmen from AFMC centers across the country came together to hear who would be named the best in their nine respective categories for 2018.

The Annual Excellence Awards Banquet March 6, 2019, honored Air Force Materiel Command’s top Airmen for 2018.

Nominees in nine separate categories — airman, non-commissioned officer, senior NCO, first sergeant, company grade officer, field grade officer, civilian category I, civilian category II and civilian category III competed from throughout AFMC’s headquarters, centers and wings.

Senior Airman Mutia M. Graham of the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., was named AFMC Airman of the Year.

Senior leaders and well-wishers from across the command, joined Lt. Gen. Robert McMurry, AFMC commander, in the Modern Flight Gallery of the National Museum of the United States Air Force to recognize this year’s nominees and winners.

“Tonight we are here to recognize the cream of the crop,” said McMurry. “You are all what we aspire to.”

McMurry talked about how excellence in all we do is not the goal, but is the starting point. “That’s what these Airmen did. They started with excellence and raised the bar,” he said.

Chief Master Sgt. Jennifer Hellwig, AFMC first sergeant, expressed, “It is an honor and a privilege to recognize AFMC’s finest in the best red carpet event ever. This event will leave a lasting positive impression for all who were here to represent their centers. It was just simply amazing.”

McMurry closed by saying, “We are proud to be serving in the Air Force with these individuals. They work hard, use their minds, apply their creativity and energy, and use their elbow grease to get things done, and done right.”

The winners are:

Airman Category – Graham, AFTC at Edwards. As a Bioenvironmental Engineering Journeyman, Graham attacked overdue discrepancies and resolved compliance gaps, while filling a senior non-commissioned officer position for more than six weeks. In addition, Graham piloted a $52 million dollar ventilation testing program by evaluating shops and centralizing the chemicals used, thereby producing a safer working environment. She also led a 27 member team performing multiple hazardous air studies and certifying safety of work centers. Graham also served as honor guard where she directed 132 details, trained 17 Airmen, and devoted over 400 hours performing honor guard duties.

Non-Commissioned Officer Category – Tech. Sgt. Alexander J. Rodriguez, Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.. Rodriguez distinguished himself as the section chief, battalion chief by receiving the Group Lupia Award for superior performance. Rodriguez supervised a mobile training team, certifying 24 rescue technicians and saving $180,000 dollars in travel costs. As the instructor for a piloted training program, Rodriguez instructed 29 sessions and boosted the quarterly completion rate from 87 to 98 percent. As a well-rounded Airman, he orchestrated a local community outreach day, while also graduating from the Naval War College NCO course.

Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Category – Master Sgt. Jahara A. Brown, Air Force Sustainment Center, Robins Air Force Base, Ga. As Flight Chief, Brown led 85 defenders in security forces operations, capturing 32 offenders, mitigating Secretary of Defense security concerns. He also led a 16-person quick response team during Tyndall Air Force Base hurricane recovery efforts. Brown attended the Chicago Police Department Crime Analysis/Echelon Front seminar and applied tactics and provided lessons learned to 360 defenders. In addition, he quickly responded to a vehicle rollover, extracted occupants and rendered first aid, saving Airmen lives.

First Sergeant Category – Senior Master Sgt. Zachary C. Pate, Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. As First Sergeant, Pate postured 397 members, while overseeing the health and readiness of the largest squadron in the wing. His team upheld the Air Force’s largest fighter test fleet at 98 percent availability. Pate also oversaw the bed down and welfare of 222 members contributing to a 99 percent effectiveness rate during exercise NORTH LIGHTENING, the squadron’s largest deployment. He also implemented a senior non-commissioned officer safety check program encompassing 10 buildings that reversed negative trends and eliminated nearly all dorm incidents.

Company Grade Officer Category – Capt. Thomas M. Synovec, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. As Chief, Basing and Beddown Branch, Synovec distinguished himself while filling a Lieutenant Colonel branch chief position. He drove Air Force wide Civil Engineering funding and led a team responsible for programming, execution and analysis of $4.7 billion with highest ever obligation rate of 99.85 percent. In addition, while deployed he won Company Grade Officer of the Quarter. Synovec also propelled the 1st Army security forces beddown and directed 83 people, eight locations, 600 buildings and $24 million dollars.

Field Grade Officer Category – Maj. Matthew T. Schneider, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. While a Program Integrator for the 645th Aeronautical Systems Squadron, Schneider was responsible for executing 47 contracts for a total of $400 million and fulfilling over 300 SOCOM requirements. He directed a 40-member aircraft procurement team, identifying over 100 requirements and shaving months off the next-gen ISR/Strike fighter schedule. Schneider also identified a critical spare engine shortfall and devised a way to increase levels by 26 percent in three weeks. Schneider led a $2 million dollar aircraft lease using ingenious contracting solutions which cut the schedule by 90 percent and 15 weeks.

Civilian Category I – Jacob C. Galindo, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. As the Action Officer for Police Services, Galindo repaired DoD Inspector General criminal history critical findings by crafting a Security Forces database, cutting backlog by 80 percent. He drafted the Civilian Police Direct Hire package reducing civilian police hiring activity by 177 days and created a Civilian Police Academy mentorship program.

Civilian Category II – Marshall G. Dutton, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Dutton distinguished himself as AF EOI Modernization Program Manager where he managed a $300 million dollar, five-year budget program, supporting 225 robots and cutting repair time from months to days. Dutton was also the linchpin for an historic $10 million dollar, five-year Explosive Ordinance Division 10-bomb suit contract providing critical life-safety gear to the warfighter.

Civilian Category III – Mark A. Vivians, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Vivians distinguished himself as Chief, Facility Operations and Planning by guiding $1.3 billion dollar facility operations portfolio. In addition, he spearheaded a small arms range initiative insuring a get-well strategy for 198 aging ranges across the Air Force. Vivians won AFMC Maj. Gen. Gilbert Civil Engineering Civilian of the Year for 2018. He also built a post-hurricane Michael brief that presented capacity analyses for bases used for relocating F-22 and F-35 aircraft.

Winners in the four enlisted categories will represent AFMC in the United States Air Force Outstanding Airmen of the Year and First Sergeant of the Year competitions held later this year.


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