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Great Gryphons: 43d AMOG honors award winners

  • Published
  • By Marc Barnes
  • 43d Air Mobility Operations Group
The Airmen of the 43d Mobility Operations Group united to honor annual and special award winners, and to celebrate the group’s accomplishments throughout 2016 during a banquet at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville Feb. 23. 
  

Nearly two hundred Airmen and family members attended the formal evening event, joined by honorary commanders and several local community leaders who are part of the Pope Special Activities Committee—a group of local businessmen and women who are active supporters of the Air Force community at Fort Bragg.  

Col. Kelly Holbert, 43d AMOG commander, served as the event host and welcomed the evening’s guest speaker, Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey — a lifelong civil servant who previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps, retired from the North Carolina Highway Patrol after more than 25 years of service, and became the Scotland County sheriff in December 2014. 

During the banquet, Kersey challenged Airmen to prepare themselves for the challenges of leadership, and to be the kind of leaders America needs during this vital time in its history.

“No matter the profession, no matter the arena we find ourselves in, make no mistake, challenges, hardship and uncertainty will always find us,” he said. “But we have a choice. Each and every day we can be a follower and go with the flow, or to rise and accept the challenge to lead.”

Kersey went on to encourage those in the group to be leaders who exemplify integrity, honor, courage and commitment, to instill those values in the Airmen they lead, while at the same time demonstrating what they expect of those working with them. 

“Each and every one of you can make a difference,” he said. “I encourage all of you here tonight to not only express your utmost gratitude and thanks for one another, but to search within yourself, on where you have been in your life, where you are currently, and where you want to go. 

“What will you become? What is the next step, and for what purpose? Is it a self-serving purpose for wealth or prosperity, or is it one for the betterment of our country or society as a whole? It is brave men and women such as you, who have all the power and capability within to maintain what so many have fought and died for.”

After Kersey spoke, Holbert and Chief Master Sgt. James Cope, 43d AMOG superintendent, began presenting awards to those who received special honors throughout the year, followed by recognition of the group’s annual award nominees and winners in 12 categories. Eleven of the annual award categories were individual awards, with the final being a unit-level award. 

As the evening concluded, Holbert thanked the group for their service while making vital contributions to national defense through their work here at Pope, and encouraged them to continue serving with excellence in the year ahead.  

“Thank you for what you do. Thank you for supporting this group. Thank you for supporting your fellow Airmen. I love what we do. It’s important and I can’t thank you enough for raising your hands and doing what you do every day. Take pride in that, be thankful, and have purpose,” he concluded. 

This year’s award winners are:

  • Airman of the Year, Senior Airman Joshua Slagel, 43d Air Mobility Squadron
  • Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, Tech. Sgt. Destin Huey, 43d Medical Squadron
  • Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, Master Sgt. Craig Picou, 43d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
  • Company Grade Officer of the Year, Capt. Heather Flavell, 43d AES
  • Field Grade Officer of the Year, Maj. Robert Cross, 43d AMS
  • Category I Civilian of the Year, Lionel Drain, Group Staff Agencies
  • Category II Civilian of the Year, Donald Duranceau, 43d Air Base Squadron
  • Category III Civilian of the Year, Earl Russ, 43d AMS
  • Volunteer of the Year, 1st Lt. Andrew Jackson, 43d ABS
  • Honor Guard Airman of the Year, Senior Airman Diamonte Brewster, 43d Comptroller Flight
  • First Sergeant of the Year, Master Sgt. David Roach, GSA/43d CPTF
  • Squadron of the Year, 43d MDS
  • Civil Air Patrol North Carolina Wing, Senior Chaplain Of The Year, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Bobbey, 43d AMOG Chaplain’s office
  • Non-Commissioned Officers Association Vanguard Award, Staff Sgt. Ryan Garcia, 43d AES
  • Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award, NCO category, Tech. Sgt. Joseph Olsen, 43d AMS
  • Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award, SNCO category, Senior Master Sgt. Stephanie Northup, 43d Operations Support Squadron
  • Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award, CGO category, 1st Lt. Doniell Mojazza, 43d AMS
  • Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award, FGO category, Maj. Emily Ibarra, 43d MDS
  • Blacks in Government Meritorious Service Award, Master Sgt. Deomar Baxter, 43d AMS
  • National Latina Symposium’s Meritorious Service Award, Staff Sgt. Asusena Reyes, 43d AES