2/28/2011 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Keesler rolled out the red carpet for its top performers for 2010 at the 81st Training Wing's annual awards banquet, Feb. 24.
"Academy Awards Style" was the theme, with a red carpet entrance at the doorway of the Bay Breeze Event Center, according to Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Boothe, awards committee chair. A medallion ceremony preceded the event, and members of the Keesler 5/6 Council and Top 3 announced each category and the winners.
The event also featured musical selections by four members of the 338th Training Squadron, Airmen Basic Andrew Konderla and Airmen 1st Class David Anderson, James Ivey III and Cameron Rivenbark.
Wing annual award winners for 2010 are:
Airman -- Senior Airman Robert Tipton, 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron. A diagnostics imaging technologist, he was responsible for 1,500 diagnostic imaging exams and provided guidance on new imaging processors to 28 technicians. He single-handedly revamped standard operating procedures and modified 85 quality control protocols. He earned his certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist a year ahead of his peers and passed the national registry quality control test. He is a volunteer for Airmen Against Drunk Driving, Special Olympics and Biloxi Loaves and Fishes and served as a St. Martin Youth Football League coach.
Noncommissioned officer -- Staff Sgt. Eric Goebel, 81st Security Forces Squadron. Sergeant Goebel deployed to Bagram Air Base,Afghanistan as a sniper team member, protecting $5 billion in assets and participating in 9,600 successful combat sorties. A flight leader at Keesler, he's a tactical response team leader, completed combat lifesaver training and earned certification as an instructor in baton, taser, active shooter crisis response and combat ammunition simulation. He represented Keesler at Air Education and Training Command's Order of the Sword ceremony for outgoing commander Gen. Stephen Lorenz. He collected donations for the Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army coat drive, Airman's Attic and a local church's holiday food drive.
Senior NCO -- Master Sgt. Torry Hickson, 338th Training Squadron. Sergeant Hickson, recognized as the 81st Training Group's senior NCO instructor of the year, instructed 553 hours with a 100 percent pass rate and rated "outstanding" during four instructor evaluations. He managed a $384,000 budget, cut a three-level course by four days by overhauling curriculum and editing 11 workbooks and 20 tests, saving $620 annually in training costs. He recruited 152 new members for Keesler's Air Force Sergeants Association chapter, served as an 81st TRG exercise evaluation team member and volunteered as a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor.
Company grade officer -- Capt. Donna Burrowes, 81st Medical Operations Squadron. As family advocacy element chief, Captain Burrowes led five high-risk programs and treated 70 family members, earning AETC honors for top behavioral health team for 2010. She serves as deployment transition center facilitator and created the program for the wing's Wingman Day stand down. The captain is president of the company grade officers council and vice-president of the local Air Force Association chapter. She led three flight community service projects and served as the entertainment chair for the local Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society.
First sergeant -- Master Sgt. Lee Utsey, 81st Aerospace Medicine Squadron. Sergeant Utsey served both the 81st AMDS and 81st Medical Operations Squadron's 13 flights and 523 Airmen. He created a rigorous dorm inspection process, held enlisted focus groups and handled several serious personal issues with empathy and professionalism. He reinvigorated his unit's physical fitness program, reducing unsatisfactory ratings from 39 to 19 and boosting excellent scores from 81 to 142. He's secretary of the First Sergeant Council, a volunteer at Ocean Springs Middle School, led a wounded warrior fundraiser and chaired the base's triathlon committee.
Honor guard airman -- Airman 1st Class Justin Whitaker, 81st Medical Support Squadron. Airman Whitaker performed on 54 honor guard details, serving in the NCO in charge position for the pallbearers/firing party on 12 occasions. He was selected as the top Airman out of more than 100 honor guard members for a senior NCO professional education panel. As a medical material technician, he's a purchasing agent for the 81stMedical Group's medical supplies. He was selected for promotion below the zone, recognized as his squadron's airman of the quarter and received the First Sergeant Council's Diamond SharpAward.
Honor guard NCO -- Staff Sgt. Tiffany Thompson, 334th TRS. Sergeant Thompson, who served as the honor guard's primary trainer, personally performed for 54 military funeral honors, traveled 3,000 miles and volunteered 163 hours of service. She served as the assistant NCO for the unit, managing four teams, 31 members and assuring the completion of 123 military funeral honors. She coordinated transportation requests, oversaw the $25,000 equipment and supply account and led a cycling course and coordinated weekly physical training for team members. She coordinated joint service color guards for the Armed Forces Day parade and World War II Museum annual ball in New Orleans.
Civilian category I -- Kristen Trujillo, 81st Training Support Squadron. Since beginning her civil service career in the 81st TRSS 10 years ago as a part-time clerk while still in high school, Ms. Trujillo has moved up to her position as personnel liaison assistant while earning her bachelor's and master's degrees. Last year, she resolved 935 issues for 526 civilians in her unit. She's been the 81st Training Group's civilian of the year for the past three years. She organized a wounded warrior fundraiser, sent six care packages to deployed members of the unit and volunteered with a local food pantry and the Angel Tree program.
Civilian category II -- Curtis Greer, 81st Force Support Squadron. Mr. Greer, a human resources specialist, is AETC's 2010 personnel flight specialist of the year. He manages Keesler's employee management relations efforts, was the contact person for a national union grievance and advised commanders on complex disciplinary cases. He reinvigorated the base's disability program and served as workforce recruitment program manager. Mr. Greer serves on the Keesler Federal Credit Union Board of Directors, teaches Sunday school and served on Biloxi High School's accreditation parent panel.
Civilian supervisor category II -- Michael Fix, 81st FSS. Mr. Fix, AETC's manpower and personnel flight manager of the year for 2010, leads a staff that has been selected as the command's top manpower office for the past five years. He leads a team that managed more than 5,000 nonappropriated fund, wing and group authorizations worth $556 million. He distributed 115 Christmas baskets to needy families, served as Sunday school teacher for 23 couples and raised funds for Jackson County's Backpack Buddies program that ensured nutrition for more than 300 needy children.
CSC also recognized its President' Award winners at the banquet -- Rebecca Mason, civil engineering operations; Jeff Light, weather service forecaster; and Greg Stoeger, real property manager.