AFA Salutes 2013 Outstanding Airmen of the Year

Aug 08, 2013, 15:05 ET from Air Force Association

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Air Force Association today announced the 2013 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

Each year, AFA salutes twelve outstanding enlisted personnel for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement, and personal achievements. AFA proudly honors these Outstanding Airmen at its annual Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition held in September in Washington, D.C.

"The Air Force Association is very proud to honor the commitment of these exemplary Airmen," said George Muellner, AFA Chairman of the Board. "We salute them for their professional achievements and dedication and thank them for their continued service to our country."

"These men and women have demonstrated exceptional leadership and performance," said Craig McKinley, AFA President. "Each year we join the Air Force in recognizing the achievements of select distinguished Airmen. Their commitment to their jobs reflects the high standards that exist within the United States Air Force, and we look forward to seeing what else they accomplish throughout their careers."

The program was initiated at the Air Force Association's 10th annual national Convention, held in New Orleans in 1956. The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, a general officer, and selected Major Command chiefs form the selection board. The Air Force Chief of Staff reviews the selections. The Twelve Outstanding Airmen are awarded the Outstanding Airmen ribbon with the bronze service star device and wear the Outstanding Airmen badge for one year. They also serve on the Air Force Enlisted Council for one year.

For more information, contact Lynette Cross at or call 1-800-727-3337 ext. 4807.

The recipients of the 2013 Airmen of the Year Award are as follows:

Name:  Tessa M. Fontaine
Duty Title:  Counterintelligence and Cyber Counterintelligence Superintendent
Organization:  National Reconnaissance Office, Chantilly, Virginia

Master Sergeant Tessa Fontaine drove multiple joint espionage investigations to secure spy convictions and protect $5 billion of national security systems. She managed 14 investigators and led 279 counterintelligence inquiries, closing a National Reconnaissance Office record of 133. Sergeant Fontaine was also the National Reconnaissance Office representative for an intelligence community working group that developed a mitigation plan to counter an international threat and secure a $1.5 billion war-fighting platform. She also piloted a $506,000 network upgrade that doubled threat detection capabilities for the United States.

Name:  Andre S. Davis
Duty Title:  Unit Education Training Manager
Organization:  203rd RED HORSE Squadron, Camp Pendleton, Virginia

Master Sergeant Andre S. Davis directly bolstered the experience and education of Airmen through training and education initiatives. He facilitated 228 Career Development Course examinations and conducted 65 Professional Military Education tests for Joint Service Officers. He designed an upgrade training process that streamlined skill-level upgrades. He also simplified multiple Air Force training records by cutting redundancies in half. Sergeant Davis further acted as a career and education advisor where he mentored 30 junior enlisted Airmen on education opportunities. He then coordinated college enrollment for 20 Airmen, adding 30 courses and 9 degrees to his team's accomplishments.

Name:  Ernesto J. Rendon, Jr.
Duty Title:  Air Freight Superintendent
Organization:  62nd Aerial Port Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

Senior Master Sergeant Ernesto J. Rendon Jr. pushed his wing to the highest nuclear inspection rating as he coordinated the movement of 1,200 pieces of cargo and four tons of nuclear assets on four aircraft. In less than 96 hours he directed the delivery of 74 utility vehicles and 474 tons of cargo during Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. He also advanced aircrew training where he led the upload of 20 platforms on 10 aircraft and qualified 50 aircrews. He further supported the men and women of the 62nd Maintenance Squadron as a first sergeant where he flawlessly managed a crisis for a deployed Airman's family and provided calming leadership to 418 Airmen during a post-suicide response.

Name:  Casey L. Anderson
Duty Title:  Mental Health Technician
Organization:  59th Mental Health Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas

Senior Airman Casey L. Anderson bolstered Air Force readiness by briefing 68 suicide prevention classes, conducting 985 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder assessments, and processing 5,000 Mental Health consultations. The Air Force Medical Operations Agency handpicked her to serve as the brain study site officer in a program that is saving the Department of Defense $66 million. Airman Anderson also prepared 400 Airmen for deployment by conducting pre-deployment stress management briefings, and trained 80 medics on traumatic stress prevention. She further educated 2,000 Airmen on the effects of alcohol, which dropped alcohol incidents at her base by 55 percent the following quarter.

Name:  Joseph C. Senteno
Duty Title:  Budget Technician
Organization:  2nd Comptroller Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana

Senior Airman Joseph C. Senteno oversaw a $9.2 million budget and executed more than $129 million in Air Force funds as a budget technician in Air Force Global Strike Command. He recaptured more than $13 million of over-estimated costs to return buying power to his wing and developed a detailed balance tracker for all financial obligations, which became a benchmark for the command. He processed 176 financial documents worth $18 million and made funding available ahead of schedule for Security Forces and Airmen Leadership School upgrades. He also demonstrated financial stewardship by identifying and correcting $52,000 in financial transaction errors to ensure Air Force funds were in the appropriate funding stream.

Name:  Steven C. Hedgepeth
Duty Title:  Contracting Specialist
Organization:  772nd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas

Senior Airman Steven C. Hedgepeth executed 278 contract actions with an impact of $1.7 billion dollars touching six countries, 50 states and three contingencies. He was a member of a contingency construction flight supporting Air Force and Army operations in Afghanistan where he orchestrated a $10 million fire station construction contract that enabled six emergency response activation sites in Kabul. He cleared a backlog of $5.7 million in contractor claims and awarded a $43,000 facility upgrade that enabled NATO intelligence training for 200 Afghan citizens a year. Airman Hedgepeth also obligated $212 million to assess weapons survivability and drive Department of Defense warfighter superiority.

Name:  Joshua L. Hanna
Duty Title:  Explosive Ordnance Disposal Journeyman
Organization:  36th Civil Engineer Squadron, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam

Staff Sergeant Joshua L. Hanna deployed supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM where he executed 151 joint combat missions in Kandahar. He led robot operations for 65 responses where his team quickly disarmed improvised explosive devices to maintain 34 safe routes for joint partners. He also ensured freedom of movement in a 24-kilometer area for Soldiers working reconstruction projects in Kandahar, and supported 23 Army dismount operations, meshing seamlessly with quick reaction forces during enemy contact to secure more than seven square kilometers. Sergeant Hanna further capitalized on his expertise to train 347 coalition forces on improvised explosive device search techniques and mentor 10 Afghan technicians to prepare Afghanistan for an increased security role.

Name:  Adam L. Gomez
Duty Title:  Cyber Transport Craftsman
Organization:  3rd Combat Camera Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas

Technical Sergeant Adam L. Gomez deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM where he supported Headquarters United States Forces-Afghanistan as the American Forces Network Theater Planner. He managed more than $3 million in broadcast equipment throughout the region, where he oversaw maintenance services for 620 Forward Operating Bases and served more than 91,000 warfighters. He led 12 maintenance technicians and established new American Forces Network services in 137 austere sites. Sergeant Gomez earned the Combat Action Medal as he led a team through a successful hostile-fire engagement and completed all scheduled maintenance missions. Sergeant Gomez also operated 127 days outside the wire as the sole maintenance technician during 49 missions, assuring American Forces Network services despite 39 indirect fire attacks and small arms fire incidents.

Name:  Celeste C. Okokon
Duty Title:  Dental Hygienist
Organization:  7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas

Technical Sergeant Celeste C. Okokon elevated her wing to a 97% dental readiness standard by conducting 715 procedures, managing schedules for 15 providers, and guiding a $64,000 budget. She secured three oral prevention assistant positions, which generated 300 additional appointments and saved $105,000 in off-base referral costs. Sergeant Okokon also maximized deployment readiness for 830 Airmen by establishing an access-to-care standard that dropped deployed dental requirements to less than one percent. She further improved the dental clinic by launching a self-inspection program for 34 staff members that validated eight tasks and corrected 64 critical items.

Name:  Jason D. Payne
Duty Title:  Combat Control Craftsman
Organization:  Red Troop, 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, North Carolina

Technical Sergeant Jason D. Payne deployed as the sole combat controller with a 50-man United States Navy Seal team where he directed close air support during 31 high risk missions with zero losses. He conducted 19 combat operations that led to the killing or capturing of 44 enemy fighters, severely crushing local Taliban networks. He also served for 120 days on a one-hour alert with a national crisis response force where he postured for and executed global contingencies, and he contributed to a plan to capture the Joint Task Force's number one priority target, enabling a surprise assault and mission success. He further served his team by building a professional development curriculum for flight noncommissioned officers that directly improved public speaking and writing skills.

Name:  Shawn J. Jones
Duty Title:  Photojournalist
Organization:  514th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey

Master Sergeant Shawn J. Jones is the first Air Force Reserve Airman to win the top journalist award at the Air Force Reserve Command, Air Force, and Department of Defense levels. He served as a lead writer during the Chief of Staff of the Air Force transition and used his advanced communication skills to flawlessly integrate leadership messages into all stories. His expert management of the 514th Air Mobility Wing's public web site led to a 30 percent increase in viewer traffic. Sergeant Jones also furthered Air Force messages by cultivating a relationship with a local television network and integrating wing Airmen into daily talk shows broadcast to 50,000 civilian viewers.

Name:  Lauren A. Everette
Duty Title:  Aerospace Medical Service Journeyman
Organization:  48th Inpatient Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, England

Senior Airman Lauren A. Everett deployed supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM where she courageously saved five lives by stabilizing fractures and stopping heavy bleeding while under fire after an improvised explosive device attack. She also identified and secured treatment for 51 Airmen with early signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. She championed a health record system at a forward deployed location which managed 36 accounts, and enabled post deployment care for 1,200 joint warfighters. Airman Everett also identified and reversed critical levels of 10 jaundiced babies, and consolidated a five-step deployment process into a one-stop processing line for 1,100 Airmen.

The Air Force Association is a non-profit, independent, professional military and aerospace education association. Our mission is to promote a dominant United States Air Force and a strong national defense, and to honor Airmen and our Air Force Heritage. To accomplish this, we:

  • EDUCATE the public on the critical need for unmatched aerospace power and a technically superior workforce to ensure U.S. national security.
  • ADVOCATE for aerospace power and STEM education.
  • SUPPORT the Total Air Force family and promote aerospace education.

AFA has 200 chapters nationally and internationally representing more than 105,000 members. Visit AFA at

SOURCE Air Force Association