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Air Force Association honors 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James greets Tech. Sgt. Latoria R. Ellis, from the 502nd Contracting Squadron, 502nd Air Base Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Ellis is one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2014 who attended a reception and awards dinner during the 2014 Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition on Sept. 15, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Other senior leaders in attendance included Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III and his wife, Betty, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody and his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James greets Tech. Sgt. Latoria R. Ellis, from the 502nd Contracting Squadron, 502nd Air Base Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Ellis is one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2014 who attended a reception and awards dinner during the 2014 Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition on Sept. 15, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Other senior leaders in attendance included Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III and his wife, Betty, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody and his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

Staff Sgt. David Wallace III, 91st Security Forces Group plans and programs section, poses for a photo at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., May 9, 2014. Wallace was named one of 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brittany Y. Auld)

Staff Sgt. David Wallace III, 91st Security Forces Group plans and programs section, poses for a photo at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., May 9, 2014. Wallace was named one of 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brittany Y. Auld)

Staff Sgt. David Wallace III, 91st Security Forces Group plans and programs section, identifies possible threats and hazards to security force teams within the missile complex along, with crafting tactical defense plans for launch facilities and missile alert facilities at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., May 12, 2014. Wallace was named one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brittany Y. Auld)

Staff Sgt. David Wallace III, 91st Security Forces Group plans and programs section, identifies possible threats and hazards to security force teams within the missile complex along, with crafting tactical defense plans for launch facilities and missile alert facilities at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., May 12, 2014. Wallace was named one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brittany Y. Auld)

Senior Master Sgt. Michael J. Venning, from the Directorate of Contracting, Headquarters, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio and his wife attended a reception and awards dinner during the 2014 Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition on Sept. 15, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Venning is one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2014 who were honored during the reception. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

Senior Master Sgt. Michael J. Venning, from the Directorate of Contracting, Headquarters, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio and his wife attended a reception and awards dinner during the 2014 Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition on Sept. 15, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Venning is one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2014 who were honored during the reception. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody speaks at the 2014 twelve Outstanding Airmen of the Year reception and awards dinner that was part of this year's Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition on Sept. 15, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody speaks at the 2014 twelve Outstanding Airmen of the Year reception and awards dinner that was part of this year's Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition on Sept. 15, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force recognized its 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year at a gala hosted by the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 15.

The award recognizes 12 outstanding enlisted service members who demonstrate superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements.

“What stands out in my mind about these great Airmen is that when you read about what they've done and you talk to them about their accomplishments, they don't want to talk about that -- they want to talk about their teammates and their family members, the men and women who give them the strength to serve,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody. “That's the caliber of Airmen we have serving today; they're humble, gracious and completely dedicated to what our country asks them to do.”

The chief master sergeant of the Air Force, a general officer and selected major command chiefs comprise the selection board, and the Air Force chief of staff reviews the selections.

The 12 Outstanding Airmen earn the Outstanding Airman ribbon with the bronze service star device and wear the Outstanding Airman badge for one year in addition to serving on the Air Force Enlisted Council for one year. The Air Force instruction 36-2805, Special Trophies and Awards outlines the guidelines for submissions.

This year’s Outstanding Airmen are:

Senior Master Sgt. Boston Alexander
Duty title: Superintendent J6 & 3D Functional Manager
Unit: NORAD and USNORTHCOM, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
Hometown: New Carrollton, Maryland
Highlights: Alexander directed a 170-member Information Technology Service Management team and oversaw critical assets valued in excess of $4 billion. As the J6 Superintendent, he led 15 projects to provide around-the-clock full spectrum support for the North American Aerospace Defense and U.S. Northern Command mission. Additionally, he piloted a $2.8 million Friendly Forces Tracker program of 32,000 electronic devices which improved Force Protection, homeland defense, and Defense Support to Civil Authorities operations. Finally, Alexander drove the Information Technology Equipment certification methodology and managed 9,000 mission systems worth $2 million, and ultimately increased North American Aerospace Defense, U.S. Northern Command and Defense Information Systems Agencies interoperability.

Senior Master Sgt. Michael J. Venning
Duty title: Functional Area Manager
Unit: Directorate of Contracting, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Venning expertly managed the Air Force's largest contingency contracting corps of 405 members at nine bases. He was the uniformed expert for the contingency acquisition support model, briefing and demonstrating the program for five Army general officers, ensuring the system's approval. Venning planned and executed the career field's electronic training documentation initiative, creating a standardized system for 1,890 enlisted members. His efforts transitioned the entire career field in less than two months. He received Air Force Materiel Command's Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the Year Award in contracting and was a distinguished graduate at the Senior Non-commissioned Officer Academy, where he won the prestigious Commandant's Leadership Award.

Master Sgt. Delorean Sheridan
Duty title: Combat Control Craftsman
Unit: Air Force Special Operations Command
Hometown: Chesapeake, Virginia
Highlights: Sheridan served as the lone Air Commando with Army Special Forces through 177 days of combat in Afghanistan, including 43 high-risk missions and 18 firefights. He solely defeated an insider ambush on joint-forces that claimed the lives of his teammates around him by closing in on the gunman with a pistol and M-4 rifle. During the attack, he exposed himself to heavy machine gun fire three times to drag his wounded teammates out of the line of fire to a protected casualty collection point. Sheridan was hand-picked to stand up an elite airfield reconnaissance team with a global focus, and led a U.S. search team to recover downed, sensitive technology with zero compromise to national security. He also earned his second associate’s degree and completed 12 semester hours toward a bachelor’s degree. He was recently awarded a Silver Star and his second Bronze Star for heroism in combat during his sixth deployment to Afghanistan.

Tech. Sgt. William Posch
Duty title: Pararescue Craftsman
Unit: 308th Rescue Squadron, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida
Hometown: Indialantic Beach, Florida
Highlights: Posch led a crisis evacuation of more than 126 Americans from the U.S. Embassy in the South Sudan capital of Juba. He headed a 23-person team during an expeditionary combat deployment and has provided more than 1,560 hours of Combat Rescue coverage, rescuing 143 persons. His knowledge and skill contributed to his squadron’s effectiveness by providing training for Airmen and joint service personnel. His battlefield experience, coupled with his understanding of the tactical operations, contributed to his design of schematics of a Personnel Recovery Tactical Operations Center, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of command and control of rescue and recovery operations.

Tech. Sgt. Doug Matthews
Duty title: Combat Controller
Unit: 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Portland, Oregon
Hometown: Boulder, Colorado
Highlights: Matthews completed a one-year mobilization with the 125th Special Tactics Squadron that included a three-month combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During this deployment, Matthews was injured when his team came under heavy enemy fire. Matthews was thrown from his vehicle when an improvised explosive device detonated directly below his gun truck. Refusing medical evacuation, Matthews continued to fight, calling in close air strikes, providing cover for his team to reconsolidate. Matthews was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his heroic actions. After spending a year in intense physical therapy, Matthews has returned to full combat mission-ready status.

Tech. Sgt. Toyre Hudson
Duty title: Mental Health Flight Chief
Unit: 6th Medical Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida
Hometown: Columbus, Georgia
Highlights: Hudson provided exceptional leadership for 47 personnel delivering mental health care to the Defense Department’s largest single-unit area of 215,000 beneficiaries. He deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan where he served as the non-commissioned officer in charge of Combat Stress, providing oversight to 11 forward operating bases, ultimately supporting 15,000 joint service members and 50 coalition nations. Hudson conducted 21 outside-the-wire missions to assist 110 warriors in crisis. He also served 65 days as a first sergeant during Army combat skills training, resolving more than 1,200 equipment and personnel issues. In this capacity, he ensured his team of 45 Airmen was prepared to support combat operations throughout Afghanistan.

Tech. Sgt. Ryan Gangadeen
Duty title: Staff Instructor
Unit: 1st Space Operations Squadron, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Highlights: Gangadeen served on a one-year deployment in Afghanistan as the lead Professional Military Education advisor to the Afghanistan Air Force, where he guided the creation of the AAF training regiment. During his deployment, Gangadeen directed 44 AAF courses for 60 career fields, evaluated four maintenance training contracts worth $527 million, and revealed six duplicate contractual requirements which saved $40 million. He quickly responded to a vehicle-born IED threat ensuring the safe return of 33 coalition and 22 civilians to Kabul International Airport. As a certified convoy vehicle commander, he led seven outside-the-wire NATO mobility missions, securing 18 members with zero incidents.

Tech. Sgt. Latoria Ellis
Duty title: Contracting Team Lead
Unit: 502nd Contracting Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Highlights: Ellis led a 25-member team that completed 86 contracts for Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, the Air Force’s largest medical wing. She spearheaded a $2 million energy savings acquisition in which 19 buildings were retrofitted with solar panels, reducing the utility bill and saving the Air Force $6,000 a year. She also steered a $1.9 million generator efficiency project, replacing 33 percent of defective grids in Military Family Housing, reducing output by 14 percent and saving the Air Force $24,000 a year. Ellis completed 223 hours of training at the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, garnering her Distinguished Graduate and Academic Achievement Awards. She was also named Air Education and Training Command’s NCO of the Year, which put her as number 1 out of 13,039 non-commissioned officers.

Staff Sgt. David Wallace
Duty title: Plans and Programs
Unit: 91st Security Forces Group, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota
Hometown: Norfolk, Virginia
Highlights: Wallace was selected as the Air Force's 2013 Outstanding Security Forces Support Staff Airman of the Year while serving as the Plans and Programs non-commissioned officer. During that time, he authored a response time matrix for 150 off-installation nuclear sites, which maximized resources and minimized response times. His product was benchmarked throughout 20th Air Force for all intercontinental ballistic missile units. He refreshed outdated site defense plans to enhance the security posture for 150 launch facilities and 15 missile alert facilities. He completed four college courses, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. Wallace also organized the Minot Air Force Base Spouse Showcase, which highlighted base products and services to more than 300 dependents.

Senior Airman Aaron Feliciano
Duty title: Avionics Systems Journeyman
Unit: 849th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico
Hometown: St. Cloud, Florida
Highlights: Feliciano was instrumental in modernizing the 49th Wing’s MQ-9 fleet by successfully upgrading 13 MQ-9s in less than five days, increasing the combat mission readiness of 340 aircrews. He led a five-person remotely-piloted aircraft safety modernization team that upgraded 11 aircraft and reduced processing time from 90 days to less than two weeks with a 100-percent maintenance quality assurance rating. As the avionics section trainer, he certified 99 tasks, trained 11 Airmen and raised the section’s qualifications by 35 percent. He completed his Community College of the Air Force associate’s degree in avionics systems. Additionally, he re-missioned an MQ-9 training sortie which supported the recovery of an injured German Air Forces Airman stranded in the New Mexico desert.

Senior Airman Ariful Haque
Duty title: Water and Fuel Technician
Unit: 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan
Hometown: East Elmhurst Queens, New York
Highlights: Haque led five Japanese national employees maintaining and repairing the Yokota Air Base bulk fuel storage area, Type III hydrant fueling systems, and high-level control valves, which enabled air operations at the sole airlift wing in the western Pacific. In this position, he led a storm pump renovation project that solved two years of flooding in U.S. Forces Japan Headquarters, eliminating the risk to multiple networks vital to operations. Relying on his criminal justice background and language skills, he partnered with the local Air Force Office of Special Investigations detachment to develop realistic scenarios for a joint training exercise for agents assigned to Japan. As a member of the Yokota Air Base Honor Guard, he established the first drill team in Pacific Air Forces and has performed as a ceremonial guardsman throughout the region.

Senior Airman Shabree Heasell
Duty title: Intelligence Support Element Analyst
Unit: 603rd Air and Space Operations Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
Hometown: San Luis Obispo, California
Highlights: Heasell was selected as a Tactics and Training Analyst supporting 115 personnel. In this facet, she identified 43 smuggling routes across a 193 square-mile area, leading to the discovery and elimination of 12 terrorist workshops, 20 improvised explosive devices, and 50 weapons caches. Additionally, she developed nine primary and alternate evacuation routes for the Secret Service, which ensured the safety of the President of the United States and 223 staff personnel during the president’s $85 million diplomatic visit to Africa. She volunteered 1,270 hours to 15 organizations, and led 350 volunteers through 53 events, raising more than $2 million in sales and proceeds that were donated to local schools and charities.