Florida Guard defenders earn national-level recognition

  • Published
  • 125th Fighter Wing

Four Airmen from the Florida Air National Guard earned the National Guard Bureau’s highest honors for security forces personnel during an awards presentation held at the 125th Fighter Wing.

The following winners were recognized for outstanding achievements in 2021:

  • Tech. Sgt. Joshua Aleprete, Air Reserve Component non-commissioned officer
  • Tech. Sgt. Antwan Stewart, Security Forces Support Staff non-commissioned officer
  • Staff Sgt. Benjamin Krcal, Flight Level Airman
  • Airman 1st Class Maxim Tashjian, Security Forces Support Staff Airman of the Year

Each year, nominees compete in 15 categories for selection as the top defender in each class. This year, the 125th Security Forces Squadron claimed the most wins of any unit across the National Guard.

“I am extremely privileged to work alongside these outstanding Airmen and couldn’t be more thrilled to see that they are being recognized at higher levels of the organization,” said Chief Master Sgt. Wesley Davis, manager, 125th Security Forces Squadron. “It’s a testament to the caliber of defenders in our ranks, who take pride in their work and execute excellence in all they do, every day.”

During the presentation, squadron leadership highlighted the individual accomplishments of each winner which included deployments in support of Operations ALLIES REFUGE and ALLIES WELCOME, the diligent identification of major equipment deficiencies, and successes in securing Air Force assets valued at $3.4 billion and enhancing internal personnel tracking systems.

Krcal, an honoree that brought more than five years of civilian law enforcement experience before joining the unit in 2017, cited his transition from civilian to citizen-Airman as one of the best decisions of his life, he said.

“I have a lot of pride putting my uniform every day because I know it represents something bigger than me,” he said. “When I come to work, I work as hard as I can because I believe that paints a picture of who you are. That’s my integrity. I like to always be presentable and work as hard as I can. I don’t show up for myself, I show up for the people around me.”

Krcal’s fellow defender, Tashjian, has under three years of military service but enough initiative to develop new ways to improve old processes. Tashjian was credited for creating a continuity book of geographically pinpointed home of records and evacuation zones which improves situational awareness of disaster-affected unit members and their families.

“Receiving this award is a testament to the impact junior enlisted airman have in their squadron’s mission,” said Tashjian. “I feel like there’s this idea that you don’t have the power to make change until you put four or five stripes on your chest. This was my first year being eligible for this award and it proves that even Airmen fresh out of BMT [basic military training] are capable of going above and beyond to achieve greatness.”

During the presentation, Brig. Gen. Michael Valle, assistant adjutant general – air, Florida Air National Guard, and Col. Victor Moncrieffe, deputy director, Air National Guard Security Forces, honored the winners for their hard-charging efforts defending the interests of the state and nation. Further, Moncrieffe congratulated the entire squadron for amassing the most wins of any state.

“It certainly is an impressive feat and I wanted to be there in person to congratulate these stellar defenders on bringing home four wins for the state of Florida,” he said.