Celebrating our Airmen: 944FW First Sergeant of the Year nominees

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The 944th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., is built on the foundation of our outstanding Airmen.

We are proud of the diligence and commitment these Elite Reserve Citizen Airmen display and are pleased to highlight those who have been nominated for the 2020 944th FW Annual Awards.

The categories of recognition for the annual awards program include rank-based categories: Airmen (E1-E4), Non-commission Officers (E5-E6), Senior Non-commissioned Officers (E7-E9), Company Grade Officers (O1-O3), Field Grade Officers (O4-O6), Junior Civilians (GS 8 and below), and Senior Civilians (GS 9 and above). In addition, we recognize outstanding performance for positional based accomplishments for First Sergeants, Instructor Pilots, and Instructor Weapons Systems Operators.

The members below are the nominees in the First Sergeant category. We are proud of the many accomplishments of these members and look forward to celebrating them during our virtual awards ceremony on Jan. 30, 2020.

First Sergeant of the Year nominees:

Master Sgt. Joseph Gordoa, 924th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant

In 2020, Gordoa overhauled the 924th Fighter Group’s Family Care Plan program, ensuring unit members had solidified plans to care for their dependents. He coordinated a meal plan for 190 unit members during base dining facility closure and planned a Wingman day event for over 60 members to build morale and resilience. Gordoa established the 924FG Airman’s Council to help Airmen network and build leadership skills and he volunteered with the Phoenix Food Drive to help local families during difficult resource-limited time.

Senior Master Sgt. Michael Kuehler, 944th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant

In 2020, Kuehler coordinated care package delivery to Forward Operating Bases, ensuring 17 Joint Force camps received food and supplies to build morale and he developed quarantine procedures to help mitigate illness spread among deployed troops. He coordinated Red Cross notifications to ensure timely dissemination of critical information and provision of troop care in austere environment. Kuehler also spent 90 hours coaching several community sports teams, mentoring local youth and completed his bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Master Sgt. Tiffany Lesane, 414th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant

In 2020, Lesane volunteered for a seven-month deployment, supporting 126 deployed members, and aided in security searches of six thousand vehicles. She led logistics for the successful bed down of 300 deployed personnel and secured the rapid return home for two deployed personnel during critical times for their families. As a leader for her local Airmen’s Council, she coordinated a food and clothing drive to serve local residents in need. Lesane led a symposium for deployed first sergeants to build on skills to help troops and provided 24 one-on-one mentoring sessions for Airmen, enhancing resiliency.

Master Sgt. Kevin Maiorano, 944th Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant

In 2020, Maiorano served as the first-ever 944th Fighter Wing full-time first sergeant, supporting 2,200 Airmen during the COVID-19 uncertainties. He reviewed and updated 125 family care plans to ensure member families were prepared for the mission and delivered over 150 holiday meals to members in need. Maiorano secured resources for members in need during difficult economic circumstances of 2020 and volunteered more than 200 hours coaching three teams for a local hockey league, building community resilience despite difficult year.

Master Sgt. Natalie Semensow, 944th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant

In 2020, Semensow developed a career progression guide to aid Airmen leadership development and assisted with a senior enlisted empowerment event to bring resources to 300 personnel. She aided several Airmen access funds to help through difficult financial times and spearheaded the FY21 Headquarters Air Force First Sergeant Symposium, initiating plans and coordinating with 10 headquarters organizations. Semensow earned 12 credits toward her bachelor’s degree and completed Senior Non-commissioned Officer Academy, enhancing leadership skills.

Master Sgt. Perla Tapia, 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron first sergeant

In 2020, Tapia managed the first sergeant online portal to ensure smooth information distribution, organized the First Sergeants Council Diamond Sharp Award to help recognize outstanding Airmen and coordinated a Wing diversity and inclusion event, fostering unit members’ resilience through open discussion. She sponsored a leadership initiative at a local high school, building skills to prepare students for college challenges. Tapia also completed Senior Non-commissioned Officer Academy through distance learning and taught leadership, supervisory and communication skills to 25 junior enlisted during leadership development course, building on their knowledge for future leadership.

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