Wilson honors 2018 O’Malley Award recipients

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Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson poses with Brig. Gen. Julian Cheater and his wife, Camila Cheater, during a ceremony to present the couple with the 2018 General and Mrs. Jerome F. O'Malley Award at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Nov. 13, 2019. The award annually recognizes a wing commander and his or her spouse who together best exemplify the ethos of Airmen-centric service. (Air Force photograph by Andy Morataya)

Brig. Gen. Julian Cheater and his wife, Camila, received the 2018 General and Mrs. Jerome F. O’Malley Award from Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson during a recent ceremony at the Pentagon.

This award is named after Gen. and Mrs. Jerome F. O’Malley who sought to take care of the most valuable asset in the Air Force — our Airmen.

The Cheaters stood out among the 147 highly-selective wing command teams across the operational Air Force. This award recognizes their efforts while commanding the 432nd Wing/Air Expeditionary Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.

“Despite a grueling operations tempo with relentless demands on their time, Julian and Cammy still prioritized their Airmen,” Wilson said. “No one is surprised to see them up here today.”

In attendance was O’Malley’s daughter, Sharon O’Malley-Burg, who flew out from San Antonio to be a key part of the ceremony and demonstrate how her parents continue to influence the Air Force. As is tradition, she presented Cheater the brigadier general stars worn by O’Malley; the stars are passed down to each successive award recipient.

“Camila and I are truly honored by this award. We had the privilege to lead dedicated Airmen, civilians and contractors from 20 squadrons spread across four states. We humbly accept this prestigious award on behalf of them, as they are the ones who helped strengthen our Air Force family while conducting relentless 24/7 combat operations.”

Cheater also discussed removing barriers and empowering Airmen while creating a sense of family.

The Cheaters focused on taking care of Airmen at Creech AFB by meeting with Las Vegas and national politicians to build future housing and dorms that will cut their commute time in half. They also played a central role in working with the local YMCA, as well as local city planners, to provide more child care options for families. Cheater helped secure approval for installation command authority for Creech AFB while simultaneously standing up a new operations group and three additional squadrons at Shaw AFB, S.C.

The couple also hosted quarterly “Creech Cares” events, helped organize deployed spouse dinners and offered marriage retreats for Airmen, where they shared their own stories and challenges they have faced in their time in the Air Force.

“Although we didn’t give Dr. Phil a run for his money by hosting several marriage retreats,” Mrs. Cheater said, “we learned so much about our team and their genuine struggles and victories.”

The collective actions exemplified by the Cheater family captures the spirit of this award.

“(O’Malley) always told his staff, ‘you have three priorities: yourself, your family and the Air Force,’” Wilson said. “Unless the first two are in order, the third one can’t be.”