AFSOC honors outstanding Air Commandos

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --

Air Commandos gathered to honor their top performers during the Outstanding Airmen and civilians of the Year banquet here May 10.

The OAY banquet is an annual celebration honoring the best Airmen and civilians in Air Force Special Operations Command. Supervisors nominated Airmen with exceptional service in their workplace and communities, who also excelled in their professional development.

The 2016 AFSOC OAY winners are:

Airman: Staff Sgt. Stephen LaPointe, 24th Special Tactics Squadron

NCO: Tech. Sgt. Eduardo Clemente, 352nd Special Operations Support Squadron

Senior NCO: Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Osby, 1st Special Operations Medical Support Squadron

First Sergeant: Master Sgt. Ruby Tilley, 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron

Company Grade Officer: Capt. Austin Almand, 724th Operations Support Squadron

Civilian CAT I: Douglas Woods, 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron

Civilian CAT II: Stephanie McCullough, 1st Special Operations Contracting Squadron

Civilian CAT III: Shawn Cordaro, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron

Civilian CAT IV: Julia Crutchfield, 492nd Special Operations Wing

-Individual Reservist of the Year (enlisted), Tech. Sgt. Charles McFall, 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron

-Individual Reservist of the Year (officer), Maj. Katrice Powell-Thompson, 11th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron

-Base Honor Guard Member of the Year, Senior Airman Joshua Miolan, 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron

-Base Honor Guard Manager of the Year, Master Sgt. Robert Payne, 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron

The theme for the banquet this year was “Air Commandos, breaking barriers” – in conjunction with the Air Force Birthday theme, “70 years of breaking barriers.” The focus was on the Carpetbaggers and how they broke barriers with their low-altitude missions, bringing supplies and ammunition behind enemy lines in the European theater in World War II.

Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, AFSOC commander, shared a portion of his conversation with one of the three Carpetbaggers in attendance, former Capt. Eugene Polinsky, a B-24 pilot who flew on 35 secret missions.

“Polinsky said that he thinks this base has a spirit about it, an esprit dé corps, a gemutlichkeit (a space of friendliness and good cheer),” said Webb.  “Do you know why AFSOC has this ‘gemutlichkeit’? It’s these Outstanding Airman of the Year – our 13 classic examples of what it means to be an Air Commando. You’ve done a fantastic job.”

The guest speaker at the event, Bill Becker, a former sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Force who flew Carpetbagger missions, said he was unbelievably happy to see their heritage live on.

“I want to commend each and every one of you,” Becker said to the winners. “Your missions have been different and difficult, but accomplished. You have saved many lives and in some cases, millions of dollars. The Carpetbaggers know that our country is in good hands.”

LaPointe, Clemente and Osby will compete against other outstanding Airmen in the Air Force 12 Outstanding Airman of the Year program.