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Florida Honors Outstanding Airmen With Intriguing Banquet

Airmen from the 125th Figher Wing honor the Outstanding Airmen of the Year for the state of Florida during a banquet in St. Augustine on Jan. 8. Twenty-six nominees were selected from the nearly 2,000 Airmen that make up the Florida Air National Guard, and seven winners will move on to compete at the national level.

Airmen from the 125th Figher Wing honor the Outstanding Airmen of the Year for the state of Florida during a banquet in St. Augustine on Jan. 8. Twenty-six nominees were selected from the nearly 2,000 Airmen that make up the Florida Air National Guard, and seven winners will move on to compete at the national level.

Airmen from the 125th Figher Wing honor the Outstanding Airmen of the Year for the state of Florida during a banquet in St. Augustine on Jan. 8. Twenty-six nominees were selected from the nearly 2,000 Airmen that make up the Florida Air National Guard, and seven winners will move on to compete at the national level.

Airmen from the 125th Figher Wing honor the Outstanding Airmen of the Year for the state of Florida during a banquet in St. Augustine on Jan. 8. Twenty-six nominees were selected from the nearly 2,000 Airmen that make up the Florida Air National Guard, and seven winners will move on to compete at the national level.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Florida -- The Florida Air National Guard recognized seven of its Airmen for embodying the Air Force core values over the past year, naming them the 2016 Airmen of the Year.
The Airmen were honored during an awards banquet at the Mark Lance Armory in St. Augustine on Jan. 8. For the first time in the history of this awards banquet, no one, not even the MC, knew who the winners were before they were announced live in front of friends and fellow Airmen.

The seven who claimed the prestigious awards were:  Senior Airman Nicholas F. Palmer, Tech. Sgt. Christopher E. Currin, Senior Master Sgt. Mark E. Farmer, Senior Master Sgt. Jason D. Bennett, Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey W. Holbrook, Tech. Sgt. Toni M. Epps, and 1st Lt. Tracie N. Oster.

"We thank you, humbly, for how you adhere to our core values of integrity, service and excellence, and how you demonstrate those core values," said Former Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw Jr. (Ret.). "We thank you and we recognize you tonight."

The seven winners were selected from the 26 nominated members from the various groups and squadrons that comprise the Florida Air National Guard. Those who took the title home here will now have their profile packages sent to the national level, and winners there will go on to compete against active duty Airmen at the Air Force level.
Distinguished guests for the evening event included: Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun, Titshaw and senior leaders from Florida Air National Guard units.

"There is going to be another opportunity for Airmen to do something significant in this world, and American Airmen are probably going to do that, and you may have the opportunity to be part of that," Titshaw said.

Each of the winners received the Florida Distinguished Service Medal from the Assistant Adjutant General for Air and Commander of the Florida Air National Guard Brig. Gen. James Eifert during the event, as well as awards minted specifically for the winner in each category.

The winners were unanimous in describing this achievement as both a surprising and humbling experience.

"We have so many outstanding Airmen, to be singled out for such an honor made me feel so proud and so humbled," Currin said. "It was such a mixture of emotion."

Other nominees for the 2016 Outstanding Airman of the Year in the Airman category were: Senior Airman Hossmann A. Carvajalino, 125th Medical Group; Senior Airman Asia R. Bryant, 125th Fighter Wing; Senior Airman Phillip A. Holzer II, 101st Air And Space Operations Group; Senior Airman Jason B. Heinl, 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron; Senior Airman Nicholas F. Palmer, 114th Space Control Squadron. Also nominated for the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year were: Tech. Sgt. Shawnna D. Landeros, 125th Medical Group, Staff Sergeant Christopher J. Cowgill, 125th Fighter Wing; Tech. Sgt. Brian A. Lafond, 101st Air Communications Squadron; Tech. Sgt. Christopher E. Currin, 125th Communications Flight; Tech. Sgt. Joseph R. Curtis, 125th Maintenance Squadron; Tech. Sgt. James D. Smith, 114th Space Control Squadron. Also nominated for the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year were:  Master Sgt. Christopher B. Hamilton, 125th Medical Group; Senior Master Sgt. Mark E. Farmer, 114th Space Control Squadron; Master Sgt. Benjamin Cline, 125th Fighter Wing; Master Sgt. Richard L. Hartberger, 101st Air Communications Squadron; Master Sgt. Demetrius Harris, 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron. Also nominated for the 1st Sgt. of the Year were: Senior Master Sgt. Jason D. Bennett, 101st Air And Space Operations Group; Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer L. Harris, 114th Space Control Squadron. Also nominated for Honor Guard Manager of the Year were:  Tech. Sgt. Karla R. Rodriguez, 101st Air And Space Operations Group; Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey W. Holbrook, 114th Space Control Squadron. Also nominated for Honor Guard Member of the Year were:  Tech. Sgt. Toni M. Epps, 101st Air And Space Operations Group. Also nominated for Company Grade Officer of the Year were:  1st Lt. Daniel V. Alonso, 114th Space Control Squadron; 1st Lt. Justin W. Phillips, 125th Fighter Wing And State Headquarters; 1st Lt. Justin L. Elliott, 125th Maintenance Squadron; 1st Lt. Tracie N. Oster, 101st Air Communications Squadron; and Capt. Thomas P. Martin, 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron.

All unit nominees received the Florida Commendation Medal as well as the general officer and command chief coins.

"It doesn't matter who wins," Senior Master Sgt. Jason D. Bennett said. "You're hearing all these incredible things that these Airmen have done, just to be considered among that group is pretty significant."