By Capt. Jake Bailey, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center
/ Published March 01, 2018
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Airmen of the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing hosted Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, during their annual awards banquet here Feb. 23.
The event provided not only an opportunity to recognize individual nominees and annual award winners for their hard work, but it also unified the combined accomplishments of the 521st AMOW’s geographically separated units.
The 521st AMOW consists of over 2,700 personnel divided into two groups and 10 squadrons, with 22 units in 13 countries. The wing provides all command and control, en route maintenance support, air transportation services, and aeromedical evacuation flights in Europe, Southwest Asia, and Africa.
“One of the hardest things we can do is determine there can be only one award winner per category,” Bence said during his keynote address to the 521st AMOW. “Well in my book, you are all winners because you all are very deserving. Each and everyday you’ve been executing our mission, providing Airpower from the ground up. You make sure that the ‘Rapid’ in Rapid Global Mobility happens everyday with increased velocity through our global en route system.”
In 2017, the 521st AMOW expedited 15,813 mobility missions, moving 550,812 passengers, or 56 percent of Air Mobility Command’s throughput for 2017—equivalent to moving the combined population of Orlando, Florida and Reno, Nevada. The wing also transported 189,673 tons of cargo, equalling the weight of 998 C-5 aircraft or more than 8,000 F-22 Raptors. Additionally, the Airmen of the 521st AMOW transported and cared for 2,598 patients, accounting for 52 percent of AMC’s total patient movements.
“The 521st was at the forefront of sixteen named operations in 2017, providing that persistent global en route presence which drove our mobility mission’s success,” Bence said. “Our Chief of Staff, General Goldfein, likes to say that Airpower is the oxygen that the joint force breathes and mobility is the lifeblood that carries the oxygen. Well, the 521st’s Airmen are the blood that carries that oxygen to all of the vital organs. They should be very proud of that. They do it without falter and without fail.”
Col. Thomas Cooper, 521st AMOW commander, agreed.
“Our culture as Air Mobility Command Airmen is strong; our Airmen get it, they’re proud of that,” Cooper said. “None of our Airmen carry an AMC card, but when they do their mission, they look to their counterparts in USAFE, AFCENT and other bases, and they can puff their chest out strong and say, ‘Airpower happens because of what I contribute,’ and that’s a very strong culture that we should be very proud of.”
While recognizing the 521st AMOW’s impressive year of accomplishments, Bence reminded the 521st AMOW’s Airmen they must stay forward focused while maintaining full spectrum readiness.
“Our top priority is readiness and I’m asking you all to stay focused, to be ready to execute as you have been each and every day,” Bence said. “Looking forward, one thing that we don’t have is the luxury of a published schedule before the season starts. And whether it’s responding with humanitarian relief during a crisis, or generating Airpower for a conflict, what I do know is the 521st AMOW is ready.”
The 521st AMOW annual award winners for 2017 are:
Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Eric Feliciano, 721st Aerial Port Squadron
Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Shaun McCall, 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron
Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Master Sgt. Shane Lowry, 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. Saquadrea Crosby, 313th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron
Company Grade Officer of the Year: Capt. Justin Jacobs, 721st Aerial Port Squadron
Civilian Category I of the Year: Ms. Hye-Jin Nofzinger, 313th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron
Local National Civilian Category I of the Year: Mrs. Stella Bazzo, 724th Air Mobility Squadron
Civilian Category II of the Year: Mr. Ron Sylvas, 721st Aerial Port Squadron
Local National Civilian Category II of the Year: Mr. Levent Akman, 728th Air Mobility Squadron
Civilian Category III of the Year: Mrs. Liliana Machuca, 521st AMOW, Wing Staff Agency
Spouse of the Year: Mrs. Krista Wirley, 721st Aerial Port Squadron