944th Fighter Wing announces commissioned 2021 award winners

Company Grade Officer of the Year

Reserve Citizen Airman Capt. Break Smith, 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, is the 944th Fighter Wing Company Grade Officer of the Year for 2021.

Smith led the largest Non-combatant Evacuation Operation in history, and served as officer-in-charge for the largest deployed patient staging hub. During that time, he served in 82 missions and saved 267 patients.

Smith guided non-combatant evacuation patient transfers and coordinated seven aeromedical evacuation missions for 119 evacuees over four locations and secured healthcare for 57,000 refugees. He governed $1 million in equipment and maintained quality control of $450K war reserve material packages in less than three days. He primed aeromedical evacuation for five tri-service locations in support of 100 percent medical ready members. Smith partnered with Host Nation Charities and organized donations to Afghanistan with 100,000 boxes to nurture relationships and standard of life for 28 million people.

Amongst his service accomplishments, he continued to demonstrate he is a lifelong learner by attending a 16-hour review course, 13 continuing education credits, and was earned his national nursing certification.


Field Grade Officer of the Year

Reserve Citizen Airman Maj Rachel Whisenand, 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, is the 944th Fighter Wing Field Grade Officer of the Year for 2021.

Whisenand served as a critical care air transport nurse and covered 2.1 alert hours, executed two combat missions, six short-range transports, and evacuated five patients to advanced level care over 23.5 flight hours. She served as a pivotal critical care air transport team registered nurse, leader, and mentor who helped guide and delegate team training ensuring mission readiness at 100 percent.

Whisenand is an adept registered nurse educator who developed a special neuro injury class with External Ventricular Drain simulation skill training for critical medical Comprehensive Medical Readiness Program for over 12 members. She volunteered as medical support during deployment motivation races, providing over watch for 1.5K participants across 3 events.

Whisenand continued to epitomize “service before self” by volunteering to serve as standby launch and recovery element registered nurse for a high profile evacuation mission.

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