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AFSOC celebrates 2021 Airmen of Year

  • Published
  • By Dawn Hart
  • Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

Families, friends and leaders from across Air Force Special Operations Command joined together to celebrate the command’s best Airmen and civilians of 2021 at the Outstanding Airmen of the Year banquet held here May 12, 2022.

As the commander of AFSOC, Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, took the stage to make remarks he quickly Face Timed a friend. “Ladies and Gentlemen -- Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, Gen. CQ Brown, Jr.,” Slife announced as the crowd erupted in applause. “I was just texting him about how inspired I am to be with you tonight, and the Chief has just a couple words for you.”

“Congratulations to all the award winners,” Brown said. “Just a few minutes ago, General Slife sent a short video clip from Senior Airman Zac Hogan that talked about why we need to modernize our Air Force and transition to the future and accelerate change so we don’t lose. Remember -- Fly, fight and win; Airpower anytime, anywhere.”

“We are incredibly proud of each and every one of you,” Slife said. “No hardware we can ever give you will replace the amount of work, dedication and innovation you’ve contributed to our Air Force. Airmen like you are the source of my optimism for the future of our Air Force. I’m confident we’ll succeed for whatever the future may hold because we have men and women like you on our team.”
The 2021 AFSOC Airmen of the Year are:

Senior Airman Zachary D. Hogan, 1st Special Operations Comptroller Squadron
As a Financial Analysis Technician, Hogan serves as the installation accounting administrator for four wings, including the Air Force’s most-deployed wing, 46 partner units, and the AFSOC Headquarters. He leads a team of three Airmen and manages a total of 86 million dollars in support of global special operations missions. As the lead accounting administrator expert for the base, he executed 62 separate unfunded requests valued at $101 million. In addition, he benchmarked an outstanding travel orders process by leveraging the Resource Training Center to create automation, saving 155 man hours annually at each installation.

Non-commissioned Officer
Tech. Sgt. Brandon S. Blake, 24th Special Operations Wing
Blake is the Detachment Superintendent and a Registered Respiratory Care Practitioner for the Special
Operations Surgical Team, Detachment 1, 720th Operations Support Squadron, Birmingham, Ala. He oversees four flights and four operational teams which provide worldwide battlefield surgery and critical care evacuation during combined, joint and single service operations. He leads a detachment of 23 members including 19 officers and four enlisted personnel overseeing an inventory of 1.5 million dollars in sensitive items, weapons, medical gear and supplies. Additionally, he deployed in support of Operation Allies Refuge, the largest non-combatant evacuation in United States military history, where he was on one of three medical teams in the final troop lift aiding in the movement of 124,000 passengers, the transportation of 71 wounded, and enabled several critical surgeries.

Senior Non-commissioned Officer
MSgt Brian A. Miles, 352nd Special Operations Wing
As the Wing Safety Superintendent, Miles executed numerous safety programs, including weapons safety and flight safety, ensuring the welfare of more than 1,300 active duty and civilian personnel supporting missions spanning seven squadrons and two groups. Additionally, he drove the development and deconfliction procedures for 17 aircraft after discovering a 1,000 square mile host-nation radar coverage gap. He provides safety policy expertise to the 352d Special Operations Wing, 100th Air Force and 48th Fighter Wing Commanders and 31 subordinate commanders.

First Sergeant
MSgt Arthur M. Scruggs, 753d Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Sergeant Scruggs provided advice and counsel for 180 Airmen. Additionally, he guided leadership through three medical evacuation situations ensuring Airmen received the care they needed, while simultaneously caring for their family’s needs. Finally, as the first sergeant for a Joint Chiefs of Staff exercise, he supported 220 personnel for two months, which was key to the success of Australia’s largest bilateral combined training exercise with United States military forces.

Base Honor Guard Member
SrA Sylis S. Duehring, 801st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Duehring served as a ceremonial guardsman where she co-authored a 12-week training program for 24 Airmen ensuring 100 percent accuracy on 587 ceremony requests, which included 328 funeral honors. Additionally, she partnered with Eglin’s 96th Test Wing honor guard to synchronize 15 members across four teams to mitigate shortfalls, guaranteeing zero missed ceremonies across the two installations. She also directed 20 Airmen through 14 training hours in preparation for an active-duty funeral resulting in a flawless ceremony.

Base Honor Guard Member Program Manager
TSgt Denisse M. Hernandez, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron
Hernandez directed the execution of 290 details, 6,300 man-hours across 22,500 square miles covering 34 counties and two states as the Installation Honor Guard Program Manager. She guided a team of four members in the flawless presentation of the colors for a Veterans Affairs medical clinic ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of a 30,000 person audience. She also developed a tracking system to account for 3,200 round of ammunition, acing four wing inspections and verifying the organization’s five-year ammo allocation. Hernandez also oversaw the resource protection program by guiding the inventory of 469 critical assets across three flights valued at $3,200.

Company Grade Officer
Capt Sean T. McCanna, 801st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
McCanna served as the director of operations, where he developed the unit’s hurricane evacuation plan, organizing the maintenance timeline to generate an evacuation of 9 aircraft, 32 personnel, and 12,000 pounds of equipment, securing $6 billion worth of assets. Additionally, while deployed as the commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component Africa’s largest squadron, he led 154 personnel, managed an inventory of $2.25 billion in assets, and guided retrograde operations where he oversaw the preparation and transportation of 167 cargo increments, reducing the time to achieve fully mission capable status for his squadron by 65 percent.

Civilian Category One
Ms. Joni D. Boyd, 27th Special Operations Healthcare Operations Squadron
As the Tricare Patient Administration representative Boyd is responsible for medical administrative and customer service operations. In 2021, Ms. Boyd oversaw the patient travel program by managing a $535,000 budget, instructed 600 patients in travel procedures, corrected 65 open vouchers, and rectified $75,000 in discrepancies. Additionally, she developed a standard operating procedure that enabled 23 short-notice TDY’s for six high-risk patients, ensuring for of those members received care in less than 24 hours. She also worked with six sections within the squadron to resolve 57 patient issues, increasing the patient experience by 10 percent and averting 15 patient safety mishaps. Ms. Boyd also led her squadrons key spouse program and contributes her time to the local homeless shelter in the community.

Civilian Category Two
Ms. Katie-grace Young, 11th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron
As the Operations Intelligence Lead, Young led an 85-member flight that completed 60 missions, crafted 224 intelligence products, and developed 389 targets. Additionally, she deployed as the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance cell chief to JSOAC-A, where she led a 17-member joint team and allocated 1,200 hours of support for 17 missions that bolstered United States and partner nation interests within the AFRICOM area of responsibility.

Civilian Category Three
Mr. Dwayne R. Schermer, 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron
Schermer served as a Materials Handler Supervisor where he led a 15-member team that oversaw 44,000 shipments with zero errors. Additionally, he partnered with the 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron on Eglin Air Force Base to develop a standard operating procedure for local parts transfer that reduced the Air Force’s standard timeline from 24 hours to 4 hours. Schermer also conveys cargo transportation guidance to all base customer and oversees the safe, efficient, and expedited loading and offloading of trucks carrying cargo supporting overseas contingency and state-side training operations.

Civilian Category Four
Ms. Carmella B. Teeter, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command Intelligence Directorate
As the Acting Chief of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Operations Division, Teeter oversaw a 33-member team that published more than 700 intelligence products for four areas of responsibility. She also stood up Continental United States-based operational support for the European Command theater that fused the capabilities of two units, completely reshaping the future of AFSOC’s intelligence structure and guaranteeing 24/7 intelligence support.

Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year
Mrs. Angela N. Nandin
As Vice President for the Emerald Coast Exceptional Families non-profit organization located in Navarre, Fla., Nandin has chaired 12 community events and raised $7,500 to enhance the quality of life for special needs families in the local area. Additionally, she has worked to restructure the local emergency services program by developing tactics, techniques and procedures for exceptional needs encounters to better equip first responders with the critical situational awareness. As a designated School Advisory Council member, she assisted school leadership with a school improvement plan and budget that increased student performance by 24 percent.

The Airmen of the year arrived at Hurlburt Field May 9 and participated in several professional development opportunities on base and in the community.