Ramstein Airman defends MILGRAPH award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tryphena Mayhugh
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

It is only a small percentage of Airmen who throughout their careers are able to rise above their peers and achieve a Department of Defense-level award. The number drops even lower for Airmen who achieve this more than once.

Senior Airman Damon Kasberg, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, accomplished this honor when he was awarded the Visual Information Awards Program Military Graphic Artist of the Year two years in a row.

“I think it’s difficult just to win once, and to be able to do it two consecutive years is unbelievable,” said Kasberg. “There’s a lot of really talented servicemembers, so to be able to represent the Air Force is such a good feeling.”

On June 18, for the second time in as many years, Kasberg will attend a ceremony in the District of Columbia with the winners of other VIAP categories to receive his award.

“You get to be with the Videographer and Photographer of the Year, it’s just a great environment,” said Kasberg. “Being around people who are considered the best in their career field, it inspires you and makes you want to be that much better.”

Tech. Sgt. Sara Keller, Kasberg’s supervisor and 86th AW Public Affairs NCO in charge of mission partner support, was able to join him for the ceremony the first time he won, as she was attending training in the same area.

“It’s crazy how it all worked out that I just happened to be in the same place at the same time,” said Keller. “I was able to attend with my Airman and watch people congratulate and look up to him. These people are the real deal, and they were impressed by Airman Kasberg. It was really humbling to see my Airman in that aspect.”

Judging for these competitions is broadcasted live, so Airmen who have submitted entries are able to follow along and see how their product is holding up against their peers.

“The judges can be pretty critical on pieces, so it’s nerve-racking to watch the whole process,” said Kasberg. “The big finale for the whole competition is the portfolios, and you see yours up there and then they say, ‘In.’ Your heart keeps pumping because you know you’re going to the next round of judging.

“I was watching it with a couple of my coworkers, and we were so happy and nervous at the same time,” he continued. “I had made it to the next round, but there were still a couple other people with great portfolios and it could go either way. When I found out, we just jumped up and down, super excited.”

For Kasberg, the main goal of creating graphics isn’t for recognition or awards, but to tell the message in the most effective way and to continue to grow and better himself in his skill. If a piece measures up to his own high standards, then he feels it may be worth submitting and see how others feel about it.

“Anytime I make a product I try to set a bar for myself,” said Kasberg. “Is this something that I’m willing to put my name on and say that I am happy that I created this? When I say yes, then I feel it’s good enough for competition to see what the professionals think.”

The judges showed what they thought of Kasberg’s work through the competition, and his coworkers and family feel the same.

“He’s one of the most talented Airmen I’ve met in my entire life,” said Keller. “He put’s so much work into everything he does. In every project, he follows it from each little detail to make sure everything is perfect.”

On the job and even at home, Kasberg pours all of his energy into a project.

“He’s so passionate about it and he’s willing to put in the hours,” said Staff Sgt. Nancy Kasberg, Kasberg’s wife and Armed Forces Network Kaiserslautern NCO in charge of news. “It’s insane how much this guy works for it.”

She says he will often work on a graphic from the time he gets home till she goes to bed, and she may even wake up in the middle of the night to find him still working.

The long hours and attention to detail may seem daunting to others, but to Kasberg, it is all worth it.

“I love creating art; the whole process of it is so much fun,” said Kasberg. “Yeah, it takes a long time and it can be draining, but the whole time I’m having fun creating that piece from start to finish. I love creating things, and to me, that’s what graphic art is all about.”

Every Airman has the opportunity to find one thing they are passionate about and follow it to achieve their goals. Kasberg used his love for graphic arts to complete his mission, strengthen his skills and represent the Air Force as the best graphic artist the military has to offer for the last two years.