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Air Guard recognizes superior achievements, accomplishments

Airman 1st Class Rita Middleton of the 192nd Airlift Squadron accepts her Commander’s Award for Excellence from squadron commander Col. Kyle Reid at the annual Nevada Air National Guard’s Awards Ceremony on December 8.  NV ANG photo by Senior Airman Ashif Halim.  Released.

Airman 1st Class Rita Middleton of the 192nd Airlift Squadron accepts her Commander’s Award for Excellence from squadron commander Col. Kyle Reid at the annual Nevada Air National Guard’s Awards Ceremony on December 8. NV ANG photo by Senior Airman Ashif Halim. Released.

RENO -- Extraordinary achievements and accomplishments by Airmen in the Nevada Air National Guard this year were recognized Dec. 8 during the annual Nevada Air National Guard Awards Ceremony held here in the 152nd Maintenance Squadron's fuel cell hangar. Several civilians and Soldiers were also recognized during the ceremony.

The first person to receive an award was local journalist Brad Bynum of the Reno News and Review. Bynum received the Nevada State Commendation Medal for his coverage of Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Bledsaw and Dana Bledsaw.

Bynum's timely and relevant article, "Guard Your Heart," profiled the Bledsaws, who are Nevada Guard's first same-sex couple registered for federal health benefits. The article showcased the Nevada Air Guard's diversity and underscored the organization's family nexus and support of all lifestyles.

Eight members of the Security Forces Squadron were then recognized for their bravery in Afghanistan during a 2002 deployment. They initially received their Combat Action Medals during a ceremony featuring Sen. Harry Reid on Dec. 5. The security forces Airmen recognized were: Master Sgt. Clinton Dudley, Master Sgt. Harry Wheeler, Master Sgt. David McNeely, retired Chief Master Sgt. Todd Shipley, retired Master Sgt. John Blevins, retired Master Sgt. Jerry Miller, Senior Master Sgt. Mike Delsoldato and Capt. Lawrence Chapell.

Col. Jonathan Proehl then received a Legion of Merit award. In addition to several other achievements, Proehl was recognized for his participation in relief efforts after a deadly earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. He also served as the emergency preparedness liaison officer between Nevada and the National Security Emergency Preparedness Directorate in Florida during Hurricane Irene. He led relief operations following Hurricane Irene and participated in relief-shipment operation during Hurricane Sandy.

Three Airmen from the 192nd Operations Group - Maj. Evan Kirkwood, Maj. Kristoffer Pfalmer and Capt. Erik Brown - received the annual safety award for their implementation of new tools associated with the Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard system.

The annual diversity award was presented to Master Sgt. Xiomara Young from the 152nd Force Support Squadron for her support of the diversity council throughout the year.

The Chief's Award was presented to Dr. Trudy Gilbert-Eliot for her commitment to the Key Volunteer program and for her exemplary service in the wake of several tragic events that occurred this year.

The Commander's Excellence awards were awarded next:

The 152nd Airlift Wing recognized Staff Sgt. Russell Tom from the 152nd Comptroller Flight.
The 152nd Operations Group awarded Airman 1st Class Rita Middleton with its Commander's Award for Excellence.
The 152nd Maintenance Group recognized its 56 Airmen who deployed to the Central Command's area of responsibility for Air Expeditionary Force 9/10.
The Mission Support Group Commander's Excellence Award was presented to the 152nd Structures Shop, a section within 152nd Civil Engineer Squadron.
The 152nd Medical Group presented its Commander's Award for Excellence to Capt. Leslie Mays.
The 152nd Intelligence Squadron awarded Master Sgt. Michelle Anderson with its Commander's Award for Excellence.
The 232nd Operations Squadron recognized Master Sgt. Joshua Johnson with its Commander's Award for Excellence.
The State Headquarters' Commander's Excellence Award was presented to Master Sgt. Daphne Ross of the human resources office.

The Silver Sentinel Award is presented annually by the adjutant general and recognizes superior performance. The recipients of Silver State Awards this year were Capt. Dana Grigg from the 152nd Airlift Wing's Judge Advocate Section and Master Sgt. Shawn Plunkett from the 192nd Airlift Squadron's flight engineer section.

Two Nevada Army Guard Soldiers were also recognized for their achievements this year. Spc. Nathaniel Hill received accolades for winning the 2013 Nevada State Soldier of the Year competition and then placing first in the Region Seven "Best Warrior" of the year event. He then placed third at the national competition.

Spc. Cherice Stormfeltz of the 593rd Transportation Company was recognized for her selection as the 757th Combat Services Support Soldier of the Quarter and 17th Sustainment Brigade Soldier of the Quarter. She subsequently won the 17th Sustainment Brigade Soldier of the Year and the 311th Sustainment Command Soldier of the Year awards.

Numerous nominees for a variety of annual Airmen of the Year awards were announced during the ceremony. The winners will be announced at the Airman of the Year Banquet set for Jan. 25, 2014, at the Nevada Air National Guard base dining facility at 5:30 p.m.

The Honor Guard Airmen of the Year nominees are: Master Sgt Suzanne Connell (152nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs), Senior Airman Torrey Eldridge (152nd Communications Flight), Senior Airman Melissa Turner (152nd Medical Group) and Senior Airman Billy Johnson (192nd Airlift Squadron).

The Airman of the Year nominees are: Senior Airman Cory Lehr (192nd Airlift Squadron); Airman 1st Class Rita Middleton (192nd Airlift Squadron); Senior Airman Brandon Encallado (152nd Operations Squadron) and Airman 1st Class Tyler Laczynski (152nd Logistics Readiness Squadron).

The Noncommissioned Officer of the Year nominees are: Tech. Sgt. Christopher Bernard (152nd Operations Support Squadron); Tech. Sgt. Joshua Leggett (192nd Airlift Squadron); Tech. Sgt. Thomas Henson (152nd Intelligence Squadron) and Staff Sgt. Justin Rizzo (232nd Operations Squadron).

The Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year nominees are: Master Sgt. David Rogers (232nd Operations Squadron); Master Sgt. Paul Izzo (152nd Operations Support Squadron); Master Sgt. Yantzy Arnell (152nd Security Forces Squadron) and Master Sgt. David Hill (152nd Force Support Squadron).

The Company Grade Officer of the Year nominees are: Capt. Roy Drew (232nd Operations Squadron); Capt. Dana Grigg (152nd Airlift Squadron Judge Advocate Section); Capt. Joseph Jaquish (152nd Operations Support Squadron) and Capt. Gregory Green (192nd Airlift Squadron).

The lone First Sergeant of the Year nominee is Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Crawford from the 152nd Civil Engineer Squadron.