Seven Michigan Airmen were honored by the 127th Wing as the Airmen of the Year for their service in 2013 with the Michigan Air National Guard.
The 127th Wing also announced that it deployed 207 Citizen-Airmen, contributing 8,510 man-days to Air Force missions around the world in Fiscal Year 2013, which ended Sept. 30, 2013. The Wing also contributed to the local economy, paying a total payroll of $93.59 million at its home station, Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
“Despite the challenges of a government shutdown, sequester and other budget issues, the Airmen of the 127th Wing continue to answer the call,” said Col. Michael Thomas, commander of the 127th Wing. “While the local Airmen continue to perform at a high level, our ability to maintain required levels of readiness in the past year has been stretched to the limit, given sequester in FY13 and then the government shutdown to begin the current fiscal year.”
Named Airmen of the Year for 2013 were:
· Senior Airman Kylee Coats, 127th Medical Group, Airman of the Year
· Technical Sgt. Mary Bucholtz, 127th Wing Chaplain’s Office, Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
· Master Sgt. Christopher Tear, 127th Air Refueling Group, Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
· Master Sgt. Harold Hayes, 127th Air Refueling Group, First Sergeant of the Year
· Senior Airman Eric Kim, 127th Mission Support Group, Honor Guard Member of the Year
· Capt. Bryan Amara, 127th Wing, Company Grade Officer of the Year
· Lt. Col. Thomas Sierakowski, 127th Mission Support Group, 127th Wing Commander’s Trophy.
Thomas named the Wing’s Airmen of the Year during the annual end of the year commander’s call formation, attended by all of the approximately 1,700 members of the 127th Wing. As the year concludes, Thomas noted that about 50 Airmen from the Wing will be deployed and away from home over the holiday season.
As Thomas honored the Airmen of his command for their 2013 performance, he also offered a forecast of 2014.
“With the current budget climate and uncertainty, I think many of you are already bracing yourselves for more challenges, more uncertainty and more change,” Thomas said of the year ahead. “Staring into the face of 2014, we will most certainly have more uphill challenges coming, and we may be tired, but we cannot drop our focus: keeping our aircraft and viable Air Force missions here at Selfridge. We will not succeed if we cut corners, get lazy or fed up, or disrespect one another. We all have missions to accomplish and we must continue to epitomize what (early air power pioneer Giulio) Douhet meant when he said ‘Flexibility is the key to air power.”
In addition to the 207 Airmen of the 127th Wing who deployed from Selfridge in FY13, the Wing’s 127th Logistics Readiness Squadron supported the deployment of 883 members of other services assigned to Selfridge during FY2013. For mission deployments and exercises, the 127th LRS loaded and shipped 55.6 tons of cargo.
“And we know that additional deployments are in our future,” Thomas said. “I continue to be amazed at the willingness of so many of my Michigan friends and neighbors to step forward and say ‘I’ll go.’ Their service is often done without fanfare, but not without great appreciation.”
Thomas noted that in addition to the deployments, 296 127th Wing Airmen left Selfridge for 3,594 total man-days away from home in various military exercises, ensuring their readiness for potential future operations.
At home station at Selfridge, among the highlights of FY2013 were ribbon cutting ceremonies held at the base for the 127th Wing’s Fighter Squadron Operations building and a 3-building munitions complex to support the Wing’s A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft mission. Elsewhere on the base, Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) Detroit Joint Reserve Intelligence Center held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in September.
In September, three members of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force paid a two-day visit to Selfridge and heard testimony on local Air National Guard operations. The commission is to make a recommendation to the president and to Congress on Feb. 1, 2014.
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Story and Photos by TSgt. Dan Heaton, 127th Wing Public Affairs
For the original story, visit the 127th Wing website.