86th OSS Airman takes Air Force by storm

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Behind every multi-million dollar aircraft landing at Ramstein is a team of Airmen that are celebrating yet another successful flight as they continue to diligently watch the skies for hazardous weather. For one of those teams, one Airman stands out from all other weather Airmen across the world, giving the 86th Operations Support Squadron something else to celebrate.

Staff Sgt. Nichol Jimenez, 86th OSS weather forecaster craftsman, was awarded 2016’s Air Force Weather Airman of the Year while providing support to both the 37th and 76th Airlift Squadrons.

“Staff Sgt. Jimenez is one of those unique individuals who is both personable and a great technician,” said Capt. Nicolle Bernard, 86th OSS flight commander. “I can tell that the other members of our flight not only enjoy working with her, but respect her greatly. Her willingness to step up where others don't has put her in positions to do all the great things that she's accomplished.” 

In 2016, Jimenez produced more than 6,000 weather products, supported approximately 24,000 operations, and delivered weather support to six NATO forward training deployments and an Air Chief conference.

While deployed in support of a NATO exercise in Poland, Jimenez also briefed international pilots and more than 1,000 training events in what was the largest formation airdrop in Polish history.

A prior air traffic controller, Jimenez joined the weather workforce in 2012 with an advantage that her peers didn’t have.

Air traffic controllers are required to not only be trained in weather, but to have an open communication with weather Airmen so that missions are completed as safely as possible.

“Being in air traffic control helped me because it works hand-in-hand with weather,” Jimenez said.

Weather forecasting is known to be especially tricky when it comes to being right.

“I’ve really gained an appreciation for the fact that not everything is just black and white when it comes to weather,” Jimenez said. “You can sit there and analyze something for two hours and maybe you’re right, maybe you’re not, but not everything plays out exactly how you would expect it to.”

Other than winning such a prestigious award, Jimenez has done a lot of things right throughout her Air Force career.

During her most recent deployment, Jimenez participated in standing up an expeditionary weather unit from scratch and with little guidance for U.S. Africa Command’s newest anti-terrorism mission in support of Operation ODYSSEY LIGHTNING.

She partook in enabling full motion video capabilities, built 20 standard operating procedures, oversaw 3,000 forward operating base forecasts, and supported 250 unmanned aerial vehicle launch and recovery missions for two aircraft. Her forecasts aided in the elimination of 99 high visibility targets.

“As a weather Airman, you have to be confident and stand behind what you’re saying 100 percent,” Jimenez said. “Weather definitely gave me more confidence by having to back myself up and give my full attention no matter how long the mission is.”

Bringing the pilots up-to-date on their certifications here, flying them back to the states for any maintenance that needs to be done, and making sure that our pilots, including sister service’s pilots, are good-to-go is one of the many ways Jimenez contributes to keeping operations running.

With the information she has helped give them, pilots are able to do their part of the mission as effectively and as efficiently as possible.

“This is her second year winning the USAFE Weather Airman of the Year award,” Bernard said, “and her accomplishment achieving that award at the Air Force level this year reflects her continuous dedication to the mission here, and we are all very proud of her.”

Weather can be unpredictable, but Ramstein can rest assured that Jimenez will continue to be the vigilant award-winning Airmen that she is.