Capt. Taylor Bye became the first woman to be honored with the Koren Kolligian, Jr. Trophy, awarded to those who perform outstanding feats of airmanship and skill to avert or minimize the seriousness of an aircraft mishap, on May 11 at the Pentagon. Bye, an A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot assigned to the 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., was flying a training sortie two years ago, when her A-10’s gun experienced a catastrophic failure and her canopy was sent soaring through the sky during flight. After putting the throttles in max, pitching the aircraft nose up and lowering her seat to reduce the wind blast, Bye was able to execute a “belly” landing with the help of her team on the ground and her wingmen.
Col. Yosef “Hitman” Morris, from the 388th Fighter Wing retired from Active duty in early April, completing a career filled with historic firsts. Among them, Morris was in the first cadre of F-35A pilots at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., he flew one of two first operational F-35As in the entire service to Hill, he served as director of operations for Hill’s first F-35 squadron and for the F-35A’s first overseas deployment, and he led the F-35A’s first combat deployment and sorties in Iraq in 2019. Morris was the last of the original leadership from that first F-35 squadron to retire.
On April 21, Lt. Col. Vanessa Wilcox assumed command of the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., becoming the first woman ever to lead a B-52 squadron. Wilcox had served as Deputy Group Commander for the 2nd Mission Support Group and as Director of Operations for the 20th Bomb Squadron. “I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to lead this historic squadron. … “I’m proud to serve alongside the men and women of the 96th BS to build upon a legacy left … over its 105-year tenure,” Wilcox said.
On Feb. 16, 2022, USAF’s oldest living general, Lt. Gen. Harry Goldsworthy, died, at age 107. A recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and the Air Medal, he held a number of posts throughout more than 30 years in the military—he flew B-25s and B-29s, helped oversee wings being equipped with the B-36 and Minuteman ICBM, and served in Puerto Rico, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, at the Pentagon, and the Philippines. In retirement, he was involved with the March Field Air Museum near March ARB, Calif.
Retired Air Force Maj. William F. Whitson served as a missileer at RAF Greenham Common AB, U.K., as the U.S. deployed the Ground Launched Cruise Missile to Europe in the 1980s. After retiring from service, becoming a lawyer, and finishing a 20-year career in the legal profession, Whitson returned to RAF Greenham Common for his debut novel—“The Librarian: Intrigue at RAF Greenham,” a historical espionage thriller recounting a tense moment in the Cold War.
Hannah Hart made history April 22, becoming the first-ever prior service member to join the U.S. Space Force when she enlisted as a Space Systems Operator. Hart spent four years as an Active-duty Airman, transferred to the Reserve as a staff sergeant, and went back to school. She’ll pursue a bachelor’s degree and a commission while undergoing technical training in USSF. Hart credited in part her husband, Tech. Sgt. Jeffery Hart, a U.S. Air and Space Force enlisted accessions recruiter.
Senior Airman Myah Periman of the 919th SOW was named AFRC’s 2022 Outstanding Airman of the Year in April. A geospatial imagery analyst, she garnered the highest tier of certification possible, became a mission supervisor, and leads a team of six. Officials credited her with helping to prevent two civilian casualties during a kinetic strike in a combat operation, and she has also served as training lead for her flight.
In 2001, Capt. Zlatoslava Karga immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine, leaving behind her mother Luba. For years, Karga, now the 60th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron psychiatric nurse practitioner at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., asked her mother to join her, only for her to refuse. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed the situation, and Karga sprang into action to coordinate her mother’s evacuation from Kyiv amid the conflict. With the help of a GoFundMe, her husband Rob, and a lengthy trip by car, bus, and plane, Karga was able to get her mother out of the combat area and into the U.S.