Air Force recognizes 2012 Outstanding Airmen of the Year

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tabitha N. Haynes
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
The 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year attended a recognition reception and dinner hosted by the 2012 Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 17.

The Airmen were lauded for demonstrating "outstanding leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievement," Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy said. "Our Airmen exhibit these qualities every day. The Airmen we honor here tonight represent the 700,000 American Airmen doing our nation proud."

The honorees also earned the Outstanding Airman of the Year ribbon with the bronze service star device and will serve on the Air Force Enlisted Council for one year. They will tour Washington and the White House during their stay this week.

Besides Roy, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III were in attendance to support the 12 distinguished Airmen. The Airmen were also welcomed by more than 70 U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen on stage.

"Our history is rooted in innovation," Roy said. "We expect Airmen to be the innovators, and they always come through for us."

Staff Sgt. Angelo Banks, 81st Security Forces Squadron, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., led eight Airmen as leader of a quick response fire team while deployed to Manas, Kyrgyzstan, and trained members of the Kyrgyzstan military.

Master Sgt. Alan Braden, 88th Force Support Squadron, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, drafted a career assistance advisor and First Term Airmen Center inspection program, which has been adopted by the functional manager for use across the Air Force Material Command.

Staff Sgt. Cory Branham, 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, had his function check and self inspection reports designated as "best practice" after he coordinated with 25 units to manage 158 performance reports to timely completion.

Senior Airman Bryenna Brooks, 2nd Medical Operations Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., provided direct medical support at the 101st troop medical clinic, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, as an independent convoy medic.

Master Sgt. Brandon Bruner, 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., is currently serving his fifth deployment in Afghanistan. He is a seasoned convoy commander, who has lead 11 combat missions, trained 32 joint team members, certified six convoy positions and qualified 312 Airmen with the M-4 rifle.

Senior Airman Matthew Butler, 15th Operational Weather Squadron, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., beat forecasting accuracy standard by 22 percent to secure $13 billion in assets at 33 sites.

Senior Master Sgt. Laura Callaway, 60th Medical Operations Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., led the Air Force's largest physical medicine and emergency departments and forged a clinical practicum with the University of California Davis.

Senior Master Sgt. Emilio Hernandez, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom, led 52 people in 53 civil engineering projects at 163 forward operating bases in support of 85,000 warfighters.

Senior Airman Nicholas A. Hurt, 721st Security Forces Squadron, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., served on a quick-reaction team at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where he secured the base perimeter to protect 30,000 personnel and $3.8 billion in assets.

Master Sgt. Sandra L. Plentzas, 944th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., leveraged the Head Chaplain total force initiative to integrate active duty and Air Reserve component chaplain training and scheduling, extending Luke Air Force Base's ministry to more than 2,000 Airmen.

Tech. Sgt. Matthew G. Stark, 354th Civil Engineer Squadron, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, led the most decorated explosive ordnance disposal flight in Iraq. He oversaw 27 operations with zero casualties in support of Operation New Dawn.

Senior Master Sgt. Luke W. Thompson, 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard, Ore., enabled two Combined Joint Special Operations Task Forces, bringing 85 battlefield Airmen to the fight. His organizational skills provided key joint terminal attack control support, delivering 142 lethal airstrikes to the enemy.

"These Airmen are not lucky -- they have earned every one of their awards," Roy said. "Like you, I stand in front of you and say, 'I am a very proud Airman.' I am proud of being the chief master sergeant of the Air Force, but more importantly, I am proud of being and American Airman."

For more information about AFA or the Outstanding Airmen of the Year program, visit