Members of the 27th Special Operations Medical Group salute the flag at a redesignation ceremony at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., August 29, 2019. The ceremony redesignated two squadrons with the intention of providing care in a more specialized manner. Senior Airman Vernon Walter III
Photo Caption & Credits

Faces of the Force

June 30, 2021

Tell us who you think we should highlight here. Write to afmag@afa.org.

Staff Sgt. Justin Andras/ANG

Senior Airman Jacquiline Graves, an Aircrew Flight Equipment (AFE) journeyman assigned to the 122nd Fighter Wing, was awarded the Air National Guard Outstanding AFE Airman of the Year. Graves completed a 90-day Active Duty Operational Support tour with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, spearheading a maternity flight suit project that provides mission capabilities for female aircrew. Graves also was chosen as the 122nd Operations Group Airman of the Year.

Airman 1st Class Destani Matheny

Technical Sgt. Kelli Floyd is the first enlisted member to be selected for the U.S. Special Operations Command Ghost Program, where she will spend 120 days in SOCOM’s executive office for fixed wing aircraft, working on programs such as manned and unmanned aircraft, precision strike, and emerging technologies. Floyd is also Air Combat Command NCO of the year for 2021 and was 2020 20th FW NCO of the year and the 2020 ACC Contracting Innovator of the Year.

Senior Airman Baylee Hunt

Maj. Sarah Spy, a C-130 Hercules pilot is slotted to become the first female instructor pilot for the Nevada Air National Guard after completing her instructor pilot course this year. Spy has amassed 4,500 flight hours and served on numerous deployments. She joined the Guard in 2002, earned a commercial pilot’s license, became a certified flight instructor, and after working in the ANG as a crew chief, earned her commission in 2007.

Ty Greenlees/USAF

Maj. Eric Mozeleski and Capt. Carly Kerr, both 88th Medical Group Airmen at Wright-Pattersion AFB, Ohio, saved the lives of two individuals involved in a rollover incident on an Ohio interstate. The passenger was ejected from the vehicle with a life-threatening leg injury, which Kerr stabilized using her uniform belt as a tourniquet. They extracted the trapped, injured driver, stabilized both victims, and tended  to them until local emergency services personnel arrived. 

USAF

USAF Maj. Monica Pickenpaugh was named the Federal Engineer of the Year by the National Society of Federal Engineers. Recognized for innovations in the development of drinking water distribution systems and as U.S. Forces Korea’s chief of construction, Pickenpaugh’s construction projects in the Republic of Korea,  worth some $5.7 billion,  support the USFK commanders’ defense efforts through critical projects. 

Airman 1st Class Joao Marcus Costa

Staff Sgt. Journey Collier was named 2020 Military Firefighter of the Year. The Misawa AB, Japan, Airman’s accomplishments include streamlining the firefighter certification process, giving virtual school tours to kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and leading trainings with her Japanese counterparts. She was accepted into the Professional Officer Course-Early Release Program (POC-ERP), where she will earn a degree and a commission.

Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur/ANG

The 190th Fighter Squadron, Idaho ANG, won Top Overall Team  during the Hawgsmoke 2021 competition, outperforming 12 other units. The three-day event tests maintenance, weapons load crews, and pilots on their execution of skill in a fast-paced environment. “It’s surreal. … It’s really a high honor in order to [be a part of] Hawgsmoke,” said Lt. Col. Jason Cobb, the 190th’s A-10 instructor pilot. The next Hawgsmoke will be held in 2023.

USAF/courtesy

Staff Sgt. Michael Rogers, a pararescueman, received the 2021 Air Force Sergeants Association Pitsenbarger Award for actions in Afghanistan when an accidental discharge by partner forces into a Taliban RPG stockpile set off massive explosions. He saved a communications sergeant and five others who were badly wounded. An injured intelligence sergeant died despite Rogers positioning himself between the exploding stockpile and the injured man.

Tech. Sgt. Marleah Cabano

612th Air Base Squadron Airmen delivered donations to the Children of Love Foundation Orphanage in La Paz, Honduras. With help from the U.S., orphans received clothing, shoes, and towels, as well as toys, soap, toothpaste, and school supplies. Many USAF units at Soto Cano AB sponsor a local orphanage, but Children of Love did not receive help until the 612th stepped up. “It’s about being part of the community,” said Maj. Duane Reid, 612th ABS director of operations.

Airman 1st Class Luke Kitterman

A female Airman will soon begin formal training to become a USAF combat controller. The unnamed Airman, who recently finished the four-week assessment and selection course, is one of four women in the training pipeline vying to break into special warfare operations, a profession that remains dominated by men.  She will soon begin combat dive school, parachute training, free-fall, air traffic control class, advanced  weapons and demolition skills , and battlefield survival training.