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Awards ceremony recognizes excellence

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Bryan Hull
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Every year the 446th Airlift ‘Rainier’ Wing celebrates top performers with an annual awards presentation. This year, Col. Sean Pierce, 446th Airlift Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Kenellias Smith, 446th AW command chief, presented awards for outstanding achievement at the McChord Club May 3.

“Having an annual awards ceremony is a way to recognize the tremendous accomplishments and hard work our Reserve Citizen Airmen do here every day,” said Pierce. “It’s a tradition throughout all the military branches to recognize service members for above and beyond actions for their country.”

The 2018 award winners were recognized by the Rainier Wing for their standout excellence with quarterly, annual, and higher headquarters level honors.

Airman of the Year
Staff Sgt. Crystal Lothrop, 446th Force Support Squadron
Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
Tech. Sgt. Michael Katzer, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
Master Sgt. Michael Mellein, 86th Aerial Port Squadron
First Sergeant of the Year
Master Sgt. Janelle Marshall, 313th Airlift Squadron
Company Grade Officer of the Year
Capt. April Telan, 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
Field Grade Officer of the Year
Lt. Col. Michael Hughes, 97th Airlift Squadron
Civilian of the Year, Category I (two-way tie)
Mr. Robert Kagarise, 446th Airlift Wing
Ms. Kathryn Hulsmann, 446th Operations Group
Civilian of the Year, Category II
Mr. Patrick Whitney, 446th Logistics Readiness Flight
Civilian of the Year, Category III
Ms. Emily Yturralde, 446th Airlift Wing
Air Force Reserve Command Awards
AFRC Squadron of the Year
446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
Outstanding AFRC Aeromedical Aircrew Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
Senior Master Sgt. Kristy Wellman, 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
Outstanding AFRC Aeromedical Aircrew Officer of the Year
Major Benjamin Schultze, 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
AFRC Inspector General, Lt. Gen. Howard W. Leaf award
Senior Master Sgt. Nicole Carman, 446th Airlift Wing
AFRC Outstanding Weapons Safety Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
Tech. Sgt. Terrance Kung, 446th Airlift Wing
Department of Defense Awards
Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Award
446th Airlift Wing Airmen and Family Readiness Center

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of recognition,” said Pierce. “Through fiscal shortfalls and manning shortages, our members work in dynamic environments to overcome challenges and achieve excellence. Recognizing superior performers for their dedication and tenacity demonstrates our commitment to taking care of our Airmen.”

For Lothrop, who was recognized as the Rainier Wing Airman of the Year, it was an unexpected surprise.

“I almost didn’t even go because of the work I was doing for an upcoming unit inspection,” said Lothrop. “I knew I had won for Airmen of the Quarter for the wing, but I didn’t even think about winning for Airmen of the Year. My supervisors were literally kicking me out the door [to get to the ceremony].”

Pierce said that a robust recognition program is a sign of a healthy organization and trusts that leaders around the wing will nominate their people for awards not just at the wing, but Air Force Reserve Command-level awards and beyond.

“You get so focused on serving the members and getting the mission done you somewhat forget about yourself,” Lothrop continued. “I am just thankful for my mentors and all the members in my unit who helped support me in getting this award. In the end, I felt extremely blessed.”