Air Force Association Salutes 2013 Team of the Year

May 23, 2013, 13:41 ET from Air Force Association

ARLINGTON, Va., May 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Air Force Association (AFA) proudly announced the AFA 2013 Team of the Year, honoring the career field of Aircraft Loadmasters, a profession that involves being responsible for supervising the loading and unloading of cargo, vehicles, and people on a variety of aircraft.

Each year the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, along with the major command-level command chief master sergeants, selects a specific Air Force career field to be recognized as the "Team of the Year." They then select individual members within that career field who are professionals who clearly display superior technical expertise, attract the praise of their superiors, and provide leadership and inspiration to others.

Loadmasters perform their duties during extensive trips to all areas of the world.  A loadmaster's duties includes mathematically preplanning the correct placement of the load on the airplane, providing passenger comfort and safety, securing cargo, and taking part in airdrop operations.  Loadmasters are on flying status as an aircrew member and are required to fly as part of the job.

"These Airmen exhibit what it means to perform above and beyond the call of duty in order to protect, serve, and honor our country," said George Muellner, AFA Chairman of the Board. "This career field plays an essential role in the United States Air Force by providing detailed support to every mission we fly. We congratulate the 2013 Team of the Year and we thank them for their exceptional service."

"We are honored to have the opportunity to highlight these Airmen who embody the core values of our USAF: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do," said Craig McKinley, AFA President. "These professionals are dedicated to their careers and their example motivates us all. They engage in every aspect of their job and are committed to providing top quality in all that they do."

We congratulate the following members of the AFA 2013 Team of the Year Award:

  • Master Sergeant Erin L. Manley distinguished herself culminating as a Loadmaster Superintendent, 15th Airlift Squadron, 437th Operations Group, 437th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina.  As the first female Instructor Loadmaster Advisor, Sergeant Manley provided unrivaled instruction to the Afghan Air Force Loadmasters.  She made history by certifying the first two Afghan Instructor Loadmasters thus enabling the transition of airlift operations to an autonomous Afghan Air Force.
  • Technical Sergeant Russell J. Cantrell distinguished himself as Instructor Supervisor, Basic Loadmaster Course, from the 344th Training Squadron, 37th Training Group, 37th Training Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.  Sergeant Cantrell's leadership was invaluable in the scheduling and oversight of 11 instructors directly executing 8,718 academic hours graduating 610 enlisted aviators.
  • Staff Sergeant Nicholas J. Rizzo distinguished himself as an MC-130H Loadmaster, 15th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida.  Sergeant Rizzo executed 50 combat missions in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, flying 165 sorties, 230 hours and set an airframe record of more than 1 million pounds of airdropped equipment.
  • Senior Airman Katherine D. Mackey distinguished herself admirably while assigned to the 68th Airlift Squadron, 433rd Operations Group, 433rd Airlift Wing, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.  Airman Mackey meticulously logged over 180 flight hours, 60 combat support flight hours, moved over 430 tons of cargo, transported over 1,000 Space-A Duty Passengers and flew numerous AMC contingency channels and short notice missions in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
  • Senior Airman Nicholas E. Cunningham distinguished himself as Instructor Loadmaster C-130J, 37th Airlift Squadron, 86th Operations Group, 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein AB, Germany.  As a stand-out USAFE career enlisted aviator, his joint support actions proved vital to protecting United States personnel in challenging operations in the Middle East. 

For more details, contact Lynette Cross at (703) 247-5800 ext. 4807.

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