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Command OAY program kicks off with nominee announcement

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Air Force Space Command announced its nominees for its annual outstanding Airmen of the year program this week. The nominees rank among the top in the command and hail from varying specialties and units across the nation. 

“It’s an honor to lead this program and to recognize these stars of our command,” said Air Force Space Command Command Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Kriete. “During OAY week we will make it our priority to showcase these star performers.”

Space and Missile Systems Center nominees

Airman 1st Class Amber D. Harwood is a 20-year old Arkansas native. She currently serves as a client support administrator at the 61st Air Base Group Command Section, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. Airman Harwood volunteers her time working security for concerts and NASCAR races, escorting distinguished visitors and supporting Habitat for Humanity. She’s also working towards her Community College of the Air Force degree and bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership.

Staff Sgt. Nancy L. Connell enlisted in the Air Force in 1994 and currently serves as a bioenvironmental engineering craftsman for the 61st Medial Squadron, Los Angeles AFB. Previous to her current assignment, Sergeant Connell was based at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., and has deployed once. She earned her CCAF degree in Bioenvironmental Engineering Technology in September 1998.

Senior Master Sgt. Roger D. Joyal is a squadron superintendent and a medical logistics specialist assigned to the 61st Medical Dental Squadron, Los Angeles AFB. Sergeant Joyal’s career has included assignments in North Dakota, New Hampshire, Alaska, Georgia and Oman. He has earned two CCAF degrees and his bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management.

Master Sgt. Sharon F. Surita, first sergeant for the 61st Medical Squadron, Los Angeles AFB, began her career twenty years ago as an aircraft armament specialist. She cross-trained into the Health Services Management Field and later served eight years in various recruiting services positions. She served in Korea, Florida and New Jersey before seeking and attaining her current first sergeant position.

Space Warfare Center nominees

Senior Airman Daniel R. Larsen serves as an instructor for the Instrumentation Laboratory section, 576th Flight Test Squadron, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Airman Larsen enlisted in 2002 and served in South Korea prior to his current assignment. He is active in his local church as well as in highway cleanup programs. He is currently working on his CCAF degree in Electronic Systems Technology.

Tech. Sgt. Terry R. Porterfield is the NCOIC, Tactics Development Flight, 25th Space Control Tactics Squadron, Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Sergeant Porterfield enlisted in 1997 has served in Germany and New Mexico before his current assignment. He has amassed several awards throughout his career and is an active member of the Air Force Sergeants Association and Pine Valley Adventure Club’s Parent Action Team.

Master Sgt. Robert B. Dodd currently serves as the NCOIC of the Missile Maintenance Team section, 576th FLTS. Sergeant Dodd is a North Carolina native and enlisted in 1991. He has served in varying missile maintenance positions in South Dakota and Montana. He is active with the local Meals-On-Wheels and highway cleanup programs.

14th Air Force nominees

Staff Sgt. Justin L. Bright is an air transportation journeyman working in the deployment section at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. He served in a similar capacity in Germany before moving to Colorado. He volunteers with the honor guard and has deployed twice from his current location.

Staff Sgt. Robert J. McDonald, a California native, serves as a communications computer systems controller at the Technical Control Facility, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Sergeant McDonald enlisted in the Air Force in 1995 and served at Tinker Air Force Base and Germany before moving to the Colorado area. Currently, Sergeant McDonald is working towards his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.

Senior Master Sgt. Randy P. Lacombe is a satellite systems operator by trade and currently serves as the superintendent of the 50th Operations Group Standardization and Evaluations Division, Schriever AFB. Sergeant Lacombe is a New York native, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1984 after graduating from high school as an active member of the Air Force Junior ROTC. He served in varying capacities of the dental career field for 17 years before cross-training into satellite systems operations.

Senior Master Sgt. Bryan K. Rainey currently serves as the first sergeant for the 21st Security Forces Squadron, Peterson AFB. A security forces member by trade, Sergeant Rainey has logged nearly 22 years of service. During this time he has deployed twice, earned two CCAF degrees and is working toward his bachelor’s degree.

20th Air Force nominees

Staff Sgt. Jennifer N. Yack is a security forces evaluator, 341st Security Forces Group, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. She joined the Air Force after graduating from high school in 1999. She chose to serve in the law enforcement career field. Sergeant Yack earned her CCAF degree and is currently working toward her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

Staff Sgt. Joseph A. Koester currently serves as the NCOIC of the outbound assignments section at the 341st Mission Support Group, Malmstrom AFB. He has served eight years with the Air Force to include two deployments.

Senior Master Sgt. Michael T. Lemke is the contracting superintendent for the 90th Contracting Squadron, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. A Minnesota native, Sergeant Lemke enlisted in 1987 as a security forces member. He served as a military training instructor before cross-training into contracting.

Master Sgt. Michael A. Knipp is the current first sergeant for the 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Sergeant Knipp holds his CCAF degree in mechanical and electrical technology as well as his bachelor’s in industrial technology. He’s also working towards his master’s degree.

Headquarters nominees

Senior Airman Karen E. Mounier is a command center controller assigned to the Headquarters Air Force Space Command Space Operations Squadron. Airman Mounier is pursuing her CCAF degree in Information Management Systems but still manages to volunteer with the Humane Society, the Peterson Family Support Center and the local homeless shelter.

Tech. Sgt. Nichole J. Graham, a Minnesota native, currently serves as the manager of Intelligence Training at Headquarters AFSPC, Peterson AFB, Co. She enlisted in 1995 and was trained to be a target intelligence analyst. She has applied this training at various squadron, wing and headquarters positions. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration/Information Technology.

Senior Master Sgt. Sherri A. Olson is the superintendent of Medical Operations/Medical Enlisted Issues assigned to HQ AFSPC. Sergeant Olson entered the service in 1985 and was trained to be an aeromedical technician. She flew on search and rescue missions, conducted technical training instruction at the School of Aerospace Medicine and provided advice to the wing commander as a career assistance advisor prior to taking on her current position.

Tech. Sgt. Jennifer L. Thibault is an IMA currently working at HQ AFSPC Public Affairs. Sergeant Thibault was trained as a satellite systems operator upon her enlistment before cross training into public affairs. She served on active duty for seven years before transitioning to the Reserves. She has earned her CCAF in Public Affairs and her bachelor’s degree in Communications.

The nominees will participate in a week packed with events hosted by the command to include visits to local attractions and bases. The week finishes with a banquet to name the command’s candidates to compete for the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

“This year’s program theme is ‘Stars of the High Frontier,’ and we’re excited about recognizing the command’s best and brightest,” said Senior Master Sgt. Rodney Reyes, OAY Program chair.

Future coverage of this year’s OAY program will be available at www.peterson.af.mil/hqafspc.