The Outstanding Airman Program annually recognizes 12 enlisted members for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement, and personal achievements.
The Air Force Association drove the creation of the Outstanding Airmen of the Year program, which debuted at AFA’s 10th annual convention in 1956. Airmen selected receive the Outstanding Airman of the Year ribbon with bronze service star device; they also wear the Outstanding Airman badge for a full year. This year’s honorees were chosen by a selection board from among nominees advanced by commands in the Air Force and Space Force.
Senior Master Sgt. Verna L. Cannon-
Superintendent and Functional Manager
Manpower and Organization Division, Hurlburt Field, Fla. (AFSOC)
Home of Record: Toledo, Ohio
Senior Master Sergeant Verna Cannon-Golemboski led a team of 48 personnel advising senior leaders on the command’s 19,000 authorizations worth $1.9 billion. Her leadership and expertise were vital in delivering the command’s first-ever 207 member Munitions Squadron, maximizing combat capabilities. She led the command’s Chief Grade Review, resulting in the adjudication of 136 positions and nine upgrades. Additionally, as a subject-matter expert, she assisted in the design of a 17-lesson courseware for her career field, which provided in-depth training for all manpower analysts. Finally, she was hand-selected as one of 15 Senior Noncommissioned Officers by the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force for a think tank to develop enlisted progression, courses of action to shape the Air Force development plan for 264,000 Airmen.
Senior Master Sgt. Christopher A. Haney
Assistant Squadron Superintendent
1st Maintenance Squadron, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
Home of Record: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Senior Master Sergeant Christopher A. Haney led multiple maintenance teams to correct the control and stability concerns across 28 F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft ejection systems. He gathered personnel and equipment to perform around-the-clock inspections, ensuring airworthiness across the fleet at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, in under 72 hours. He helped return the United States Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa’s sole suppression of enemy air defense’s mission set to combat-ready status. Additionally, his direct engagement synchronized maintenance efforts of 459 Airmen and civilians from 14 Air Force Specialty Codes, propelling the 52nd Fighter Wing to the best F-16 installation in the Air Force. Finally, he harmonized eight flights’ optimized compliance processes, which drove the squadron’s “Outstanding” 95 percent quality-assurance pass rate, advancing the squadron’s lethality and readiness.
Senior Master Sgt. Wilfred A. Morgan
Facility Systems Superintendent
5th Civil Engineer Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, N.D. (AFGSC)
Home of Record: Washington, D.C.
Senior Master Sergeant Wilfred Morgan led 58 engineers in the maintenance of a 525-mile utility grid, overcoming a 34 percent manning deficit to complete 4,000 repairs and 7,000 hours of preventive maintenance, ultimately driving an astounding 97 percent completion rate. He strategized the maintenance of a $53 million airfield lighting system, creating an innovative anti-icing solution for 558 taxiway lights that saved the Air Force $11 million in replacement costs and protected 1,200 annual B-52 Stratofortress Bomber sorties. Additionally, he oversaw the command’s largest lightning-protection system program, certifying 165 protection level-one assets and developed a nuclear-gate grounding program that was benchmarked across the command. Finally, he superbly led his team in a near flawless Nuclear Surety Inspection, clinching “Superior Team” honors.
Senior Master Sgt. Christopher M. Ricks
Security Forces Operations Superintendent
Logistics, Engineering & Force Protection, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii (PACAF)
Home of Record: Portsmouth, Va.
Senior Master Sergeant Christopher M. Ricks directed theater airlift security by deploying 302 security forces members to defend 24 airfields, which directly supported the execution of 88 combatant commander strategic objectives. He validated the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff task to transfer the Andersen AFB, Guam, security function from the U.S. Navy to the Air Force. His efforts eliminated a 10-year resource gap by sourcing an additional 138 security forces members, allocating $3 million in equipment and an additional $250,000 budget increase, which fueled the theater bomber mission. Additionally, he quarterbacked Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska’s, F-35 bed down for two fighter squadrons. Finally, he brokered requirements for 41 security forces alarm systems worth $400,000 and created a secure nest for 58 5th-generation fighter aircraft worth $3 billion.
Master Sgt. Douglas K. Brock
Joint Terminal Attack Controller
124th Air Support Operations Squadron, Boise, Idaho (ANG)
Home of Record: Fremont, Calif.
Master Sergeant Douglas Brock was the first Airman from the Idaho Air National Guard to attend and graduate the U.S. Army Ranger School as No. 1 out of 348 graduates in April 2019. He was the lead planner and coordinator for two joint major readiness exercises, where his team was critical in the execution of precision-strike capability across the battlefield. His devotion to training more than 100 Airmen and supporting thousands of Soldiers with air power led to him earning two Army Achievement Medals. Additionally, he led multinational trainings for the Dutch and Brazilian commandos and ensured 36 U.S. Air Force joint terminal attack controllers were combat-ready. Finally, during a 10-day period, his teams’ efforts deconflicted 74 close air support missions from 370 artillery fires, resulting in zero fratricide incidents.
Tech. Sgt. Jeremiah C. Camper
Pacific Operations Recruiting Manager
369th Recruiting Squadron, Encino, Calif. (AETC)
Home of Record: Roanoke, Va.
Technical Sergeant Jeremiah C. Camper shipped 109 applicants to Basic Military Training (BMT), which was the most new enlistment contracts and entered Active duty in squadron history earning himself the Air Force Recruiting Service Gold Olympiad Award. He is No. 1 of 1,200 Enlisted Ascension Recruiters and won the coveted Gold Badge for the 369th Recruiting Squadron, recognizing him as the best in the squadron for his dedication to targeting the needs of the force. Additionally, he managed a $260,000 travel budget, analyzed 195 requests, and resolved 11 errors ensuring a 100 percent on-time BMT ship rate. Finally, he eclipsed the mission requirement by 84 contracts achieving 297 percent production, which was conducive to the squadron earning the Air Force Recruiting Service Standards of Excellence Award.
Tech. Sgt. Yvonne N. Febles-Rosario
Physical Therapy Flight Chief
628th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, Joint Base Charleston, S.C. (AMC)
Home of Record: Fort Polk, La.
Technical Sergeant Yvonne N. Febles-Rosario directed 6,900 patient visits worth $959,000 in rehabilitation services. She prevented the loss of $27,000 in physical therapy services by organizing the support of five U.S. Navy physical therapy technicians during a manning shortage. Additionally, she provided critical warfighter support to mission critical personnel with a 100 percent return to duty rate, enabling the success of six deployments and 270 missions. She championed injury-prevention by organizing 49 strength-training and ergonomic classes for more than 800 Joint Base Charleston personnel. Finally, she performed above her peers as an additional duty first sergeant and squadron superintendent by advising four commanders, managing hurricane evacuations plans for 95 families, and expediting $400,000 in health care.
Tech. Sgt. Matthew M. O’Neill
Airfield Weather Services Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC)
612th Air Base Squadron, Soto Cano Air Base, Republic of Honduras (ACC)
Home of Record: Valley Stream, N.Y.
Technical Sergeant Matthew M. O’Neill led as the NCOIC of Airfield Weather Services, filling the field grade officer role of Joint Meteorological and Oceanographic Officer for Joint Task Force Bravo. He orchestrated downed-aircraft support, providing critical environmental intelligence and 43 warnings to the Joint Force Land and Maritime Component Command, ensuring the recovery of nine personnel. His expertise in air assault and amphibious reconnaissance support was critical in the success of 14 international exercises and 11 operations. Additionally, he collaborated with 14 units to craft the local Warrior Skills Course that fortified 47 Army South tasks, resulting in the certification of 33 personnel. Finally, O’Neill chaired an international conference in which he gained access to 15 sensors and two radars, eliminating a 413,000-square-mile weather-data void.
Tech. Sgt. Nicole A. Gansert
In-Flight Refueling Craftsman
78th Air Refueling Squadron, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. (AFRC)
Home of Record: Cherry Hill, N.J.
Technical Sergeant Nicole A. Gansert was a critical member of the team who enabled coalition forces to strike Islamic State group targets during Operation Inherent Resolve, where three KC-10 Extender Tankers provided pre- and post-strike refueling for 11 F-15 and F-35 fighter aircraft. She flew 25 combat missions totaling more than 200 hours and offloaded 2.5 million pounds of critical fuel in support of the operation. She deftly managed an in-flight emergency involving a GR-4 Eurofighter, resulting in the preservation of $127 million in assets, averting a strategic loss. Additionally, she managed the Total Force integration mobility exercise deployment and scrubbed 72 records, smoothing the rotational prerequisites. Finally, she enabled two Active-duty Air Force evaluations, backfilled four Total Force integration missions while in predeployment preparation, alleviating 30 percent of the boom operator shortfall.
Senior Airman Cassidy B. Basney
Space Intelligence Instructor
50th Operations Support Squadron, Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. (USSF)
Home of Record: North Ridgeville, Ohio
Senior Airman Cassidy B. Basney delivered intelligence support to space operators, securing 13 weapon systems and 70 Department of Defense satellites worth $71 billion. She authored the first Air Force Space Command Signals Intelligence Essential Elements of Information criteria, establishing eight enterprise-wide requirements for 42 threats, which integrated operations and intelligence support to the mission. Additionally, she revamped the 14th Air Force Request for Information process, analyzing 20 requests and distributing intelligence to six crews, resulting in a decreased response time from four months to one week. Finally, she headed 150 proximity reports for the 1st Space Brigade, which synchronized joint Air Force and Army satellite communications operations and increased tactical support to 241,000 warfighters.
Senior Airman Roxanne Y. Darien
Public Health Technician
75th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah (AFMC)
Home of Record: Bronx, N.Y.
Senior Airman Roxanne Darien executed readiness exercise operations by verifying 2,300 requirements and clearing 96 deployers, directly contributing to her team being named “Best Performing” by the command’s Inspector General. She enhanced the Hill Air Force Base flu-line initiative by teaming with local health departments, resulting in the vaccination of 2,000 personnel in less than 16 hours. She led the Department of Defense food recall program by initiating the process that verified 31 Food and Drug Administration notices in less than two hours. Additionally, she led the National Public Health Week activities by coordinating hygiene and food safety demonstrations for 270 patrons. Finally, she inspected 55 work centers and audited 1,000 Occupational Safety Health Administration requirements, securing the safety of 7,000 personnel.
Senior Airman Portia L. Short
U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C. (AFDW)
Home of Record: Lawton, Okla.
Senior Airman Portia L. Short led more than 80 ceremonies in Arlington National Cemetery and the National Capital Region as a fully qualified member of the Firing Party Element. Additionally, she performed duties as a Base Honor Guard Training Instructor, where she was instrumental in training over 80 personnel, providing Military Funeral Honor Guard training consistency for 17 bases supporting more than 40,000 missions worldwide. She was an instrumental member of the unit’s recruiting team where she briefed more than 3,000 candidates and was crucial in selecting top recruits. Finally, she was a speaker for the International Festival and Events Association Expo, where she briefed over 142,000 attendees and was key in the scheduling of seven events performed by the Honor Guard for an estimated audience of more than 3 million.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Oct. 19 at 3:15 p.m. EDT to correct Gansert’s title.