Annual awards banquet recognizes outstanding Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacob Hancock
  • 125th Fighter Wing

The Florida Air National Guard hosted its annual Airmen of the Year banquet Jan. 8, 2022. The Airman of the Year award program is designed to recognize Airmen who display superior leadership, job performance and personal achievement during the prior calendar year.

Each year the Florida Air National Guard Headquarters, 125th Fighter Wing, and 101st Air Operations Group select the best of the best from their groups, squadrons, flights, and detachments for competition in seven categories: Airman, Noncommissioned Officer, Senior Noncommissioned Officer, First Sergeant, Honor Guard Member, Honor Guard Manager, and Company Grade Officer.

This year’s Airmen of the Year recipients for the Florida Air National Guard are:

Senior Airman Grace Pauly, Florida Air National Guard Headquarters

Non-commissioned Officer:
Master Sgt. Matthew Brown, 125th Fighter Wing, Operations Group

Senior Non-commissioned Officer:
Senior Master Sgt. Ian Clementson, 125th Fighter Wing, Medical Group

First Sergeant:
Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Sotomayor, 125th Fighter Wing, Operations Group

Honor Guard Member:
Airman 1st Class Kim Tate, 101st Air Operations Group

Honor Guard Program Manager:
Tech. Sgt. Tyler Turnmire, 101st Air Operations Group

Company Grade Officer:
Capt. Alejandro Varela, 125th Fighter Wing, Operations Group

“The ceremony tonight is a way to highlight your accomplishments and to thank you for your commitment and dedication,” said Chief Master Sgt. Tracey Canady, Florida Air National Guard state command chief while addressing the nominees. “My only challenge for each of you is to lift others as you climb and take every opportunity to mentor the Airmen coming behind you. You should never be afraid to share your knowledge, and most importantly you should never wait to lead.”

The Airmen of the Year for the state of Florida will now move on to the national level to compete with Airmen across all state Guard units. If they are selected at the national level, they have the opportunity of competing with every component of the Air Force.

“Your nomination as Airman of the Year competitors by your leadership reflect your hard work, attention to detail, and outstanding performance that you’ve demonstrated all year long,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David Lanham, Florida National Guard command senior enlisted leader. “You are the embodiment of the Air Force’s core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.”

The Airmen of the Year recipients were presented the Florida Distinguished Service Medal and were ‘coined’ by U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael Valle, Florida’s Assistant Adjutant General – Air, and Chief Master Sgt. Canady. The Florida National Guard Chiefs Council also presented these outstanding Airmen with a memento, accompanied by congratulatory gifts from two businesses in our community.

While only seven Airmen took home this prestigious honor, 15 Airmen stood out in their respective units for their hard work, dedication, and embodiment of the whole Airmen concept. Each of these nominees received the Florida Commendation Medal in addition to being coined by Valle and Canady.

“Although these awards are meant to celebrate the achievements and excellence of the Airmen of here and now, it also sets the standard for which other Airmen should strive for,” said Chief Master Sgt. Angella Beckom, 125th Fighter Wing command chief. “If you’re not developing yourself, then you’re not going to help develop anyone else.”