NEWS | March 11, 2011

STRATCOM honors best in command

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

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The 2010 U.S. Strategic Command Annual Award winners take a group photo with Gen. C. Robert Kehler, USSTRATCOM commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Narofsky, USSTRATCOM command chief, during the annual awards banquet March 4.
(more photos available)

OMAHA, Neb. - The United States Strategic Command honored its best during the 2010 Annual Awards Banquet held downtown March 4.

More than 100 Servicemembers and civilians, along with STRATCOM's top leaders were on hand to celebrate the accomplishments of the latest winners.

"I was shocked, excited and very honored all at the same time," said Sailor of the Year, Petty Officer 1st Class Fonda Keech. "To be rewarded for doing what you love is extremely humbling. "

Petty Officer Keech said the event also affords STRATCOM personnel the opportunity to build camaraderie, intermingle and meet their counterparts.

"It gives us a chance to meet and talk with fellow military members and civilians from our component commands that we otherwise wouldn't have an opportunity to meet," she said.

Some event organizers view Petty Officer Keech as a prime example why STRATCOM's best are recognized.

"How do you validate performance? Awards - especially in a joint environment, you get to see everyone bring their little piece of pie to the table," said Senior Master Sgt. David Newman, event organizer and the Senior NCO winner for the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

Sergeant Newman said an event like this wouldn't be possible without his annual award committee volunteers.

"We had about 25 to 30 people working on this project … If it wasn't for them, this event wouldn't have been a resounding success and my hats off to all my committee members," he said.

The local community showed support for the event with the inclusion of students from local area high schools participating in the ceremony. Nominees made a grand entrance through a saber arch comprised of students from the Bellevue West High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and the Papillion-La Vista South High School Navy JROTC. The Elkhorn High School Choir, with 23 students, sang the National Anthem.

"It was fantastic to get the local area high schools involved because it allows them exposure to our military heroes, if you will, in STRATCOM and it also gives our military members the opportunity to see some of the best and brightest in our local community," Sergeant Newman said.

Many attendees praised the students for being there to share in the honors.

"I thought the banquet was a first class event," said Tech. Sgt. Alicia Maharaj, who was selected as Mid-Tier Enlisted of the Year. "My favorite part of the evening was hearing the Elkhorn High School Choir. I was impressed with the combined talent of all these wonderful young people. "

Gen. C. Robert Kehler, USSTRATCOM commander, provided remarks prior to the award presentation and praised all the nominees for their hard work stating, "the strength of our joint team is equal to the sum total of the strength of our services. "

Below are the 2010 USSTRATCOM Annual Award Winners along with some of their achievements.

Senior Airman Danielle Tibbs, Elite Guard of the Year - Airman Tibbs shouldered the work load of four NCO's during Global Thunder 11, maintained Elite Guard radio accountability, and managed the database for tracking the enlisted performance report's for 120 personnel. She also completed 46 semester hours toward her Community College of the Air Force degree, provided training for a last minute honor guard ceremony for the 2010 Offutt Air Show, and organized a fund raiser for Children's Hospital which brought in $600 in donations.

Sgt. Ralph Pohlman, Soldier of the Year – Sergeant Pohlman served as part of Watch Team Echo and conducted 43 battle watch commander turn over briefings, authored 63 intelligence summaries, in addition to training four team members on watch procedures and analytical duties. In addition, he formulated ISR collection plans and asset requests for more than 13 battalion missions while deployed with the 10th Mountain Division. Sergeant Pohlman has devoted time volunteering for Meals on Wheels.

Sgt. Joseph Ventura, Marine of the Year - Sergeant Ventura processed 62 strategic/theater missile launches, provided quick analysis of 529 real-world injects, and oversaw timely and accurate briefings of 295 intelligence events to the Joint Tactical Ground Station and theater assets. He completed five online courses while on a 24 hour operations schedule recording a 3.8 grade point average toward his bachelor's degree. He sponsors two children in Tanzania and aided a Tanzanian village improving the quality of life by providing fresh drinking water and education.

Petty Officer 1st Class Fonda Keech, Sailor of the Year – Petty Officer Keech leads four Navy and Air Force personnel and is responsible to the Director of Operations for all administrative support activities for 145 assigned J3 personnel and was selected as USSTRATCOM JFCC-Global Strike Sailor of the Year for 2009 and 2010. She leads the USSTRATCOM Joint Honor Guard in which she led, facilitated and participated in 10 ceremonies on and off base and serves as the main point of contact for the Global Strike Booster Club.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Erica Bushell, Junior Sailor of the Year - Petty Officer Bushell provides information systems support for the Aircraft and Missile Strike War Planners in support of the Nation's nuclear war plan, and is responsible for the creation and deletion of user accounts as well as validating accounts, and managing file and folder permissions. She was selected as Junior Enlisted of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2010. She has done volunteer work for the Red Cross blood drive, the annual Henry Doorly Zoo cleanup and Operations Stand Down, a program that helps homeless veterans.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Aimee White, Blue Jacket Sailor of the Year - Petty Officer White spent more than 720 hours on the Global Assessment Center watch improving USSTRATCOM's Joint Intelligence Operations Center communications with Intelligence Community agencies and Combatant Commands. She complete five Navy knowledge online correspondence courses, exceeding Navy education protocol and has volunteered a combined 417 hours providing service to the local community which includes being a youth soccer coach. Senior Master Sgt.

David Newman, 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, Senior NCO category - Sergeant Newman executed Knowledge Operations Management support for four general and flag officers, five J-Directorates, more than 750 members and six geographically separated COCOM liaison offices, led the four-star response team during HQ flooding, and orchestrated 1,800 command and joint staff taskers. He was awarded a "Six Sigma" master certification, complete 16 hours toward his bacherlor's degree and served as the president and former vice president of the STRATCOM Top 3 organization.

Staff Sgt. Reuben Peralta, 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, NCO category - Sergeant Peralta conducted 36 Joint Space Operations Center mission needs briefs, educating 144 personnel and 47 major companies, established JSpOC baseline of 78 weapon systems and released six foreign missile launch event theater notifications. He completed 33 credit hours toward bachelor's degree and was awarded Community College of the Air Force degree. He was also the base lead for the Department of Defense sponsored fatherhood prep course and instructed seven participants on drill for retirement ceremony.

Senior Airman Ismael Tirado, 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, Airman category - Airman Tirado helped his crew flawlessly set a Missile Warning Center record for missile events processed, provided search and rescue efforts for a downed F-22, and was a tech during the historic X-37 reentry. He completed Mission Qualification Training in half the amount of time, completed 864 hours of flawless missile ops, and was hand-picked by the chief of training to assist with MWC training schedule and program.

Maj. Robert Swiech, Field Grade Officer of the Year – Major Swiech was named National Airborne Operations Center and USSTRATCOM/J3 Field Grade Officer of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of 2010, led daily needs of 90 person joint service flying ops unit directly supporting the president, and led intel for 30 nuclear war exercises providing time sensitive intel assessments for national decision makers. He also partnered with Creighton University faculty to establish intel community fellows program and has volunteered as a guest speaker for local ROTC and VFW chapters.

Maj. Alfred Locklear, Field Grade Officer Reservist of the Year - Major Locklear led a five person analytical team providing all-source cyber intel, conducted daily coordination efforts with more than 30 Intelligence Community analysts to unify analysis, and supported the STRATCOM cyber conference hosting IC and allied partners. He completed four Air Command and Staff College online master degree classes implementing lessons from planning curricula into daily operations. He's volunteered 20 hours to Hero's of the Heartland and was involved with the annual Henry Doorly Zoo clean-up day.

Capt. Emmanuel Matos, Company Grade Officer of the Year - Captain Matos was the program manager for the $4.6 million Air and Missile Defense Operational Test Suite, installed an initial Shared Early Warning System remote monitoring unit for missile warning data monitoring for 10 partner nations, and led the removal of obsolete JFCOM RMU. He obtained his masters degree in Information Technology Management and was awareded Magnum Cum Laude with a 3.7 grade point average. He served as vice president and currently as president of the Company Grade Officers Council and volunteered as a church youth teacher.

Capt. Linda Jeffrey, Company Grade Officer Reservist of the Year - Captain Jeffrey was the sole source of continuity for the president's initiative to transition and execute Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications systems. She planned the first-ever 50 member team deployment to separate forward based NC3 locations. She earned a gold medal in the 2010 Air Force Golf Championships and a silver medal in the 2010 Armed Forces Golf Championship. She's volunteered as a youth soccer coach and serves as an advisor to the Prattville Christian Academy Accreditation Team.

Master Sgt. Rodney Deese II, Senior-Tier Enlisted of the Year – Sergeant Deese was the 2010 Military Times Air Force Service Member of the Year and the action officer for the Polish/Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force roundtable. He led a five day battlestaff command and control support cell for Global Thunder 11 and co-authored the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center action officer guide. He graduated with a master's degree in leadership and was elected as vice president of JIOWC's booster club.

Senior Chief Petty Officer John Dabney, NTF Senior-Tier Enlisted of the Year – Senior Chief Dabney leads three chief petty officers, and 35 petty officers and seamen in the opreration, security and maintenance of the TRIDENT Weapons System. He instituted an intensive training program for the strategic targeting team that resulted in knowledge level improvement and was awarded his master's degree, using his education to enhance his ability to lead the Weapons Department. He's an active member of the Navy Rifle and Pistol Team and volunteers as a little league coach and umpire.

Tech. Sgt. Alicia Maharaj, Mid-Tier Enlisted of the Year - Sergeant Maharaj led Secretary of the Joint Staff relocation to alternate facility after headquarters flood and was the Chief of Staff's choice as NCO in charge. She directed more than 200 command awards and decorations ensuring they were ready for four-star approval and serves as the unit fitness program manager. She actively pursued her bachelor's degree earming a 3.7 grade point average. Her volunteer work includes being the J0 lead for the Combined Federal Campaign and working for Meals on Wheels.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Wright, NTF Mid-Tier Enlisted of the Year – Senior Chief Wright led fourteen Sailors through a Combined Undersea Warfare Exercise, Tactical Weapons Proficiency Exam and a Tactical Readiness Exam and qualified as Chief of the Watch and Duty Chief Petty Officer, positions normally manned by more senior personnel. He served as vice president of the First Class Petty Officer Association, energized the Command Assessment Team as a discussion group leader, and led small group seminars providing feedback to the command on issues of concern to junior Sailors.

Sgt. Katharyn Bowen, Mid-Tier Enlisted Reservist of the Year - Sergeant Bowen led two cyber Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment team, an 0-4 equivalent position. She also managed production of International Security Agreements point paper, critical information for the Security of Defense's national security decision. Sergeant Bowen complete 32 credit hours toward her bachelor's degree earning a slot on the Dean's List and as a member of the International Honors Society. She's volunteered time with the local retirement community, sang the National Anthem at multiple retirement ceremonies and Army birthday.

Spc. James Pace, Junior-Tier Enlisted of the Year – Specialist Pace produced reports for the command's number one computer network defense mission, drafted key read for the president on critical cyber threat activities and conducted research and analysis of intelligence reports in order to develop more than 25 high quality fused intelligence preparation of the environment presentations. He was handpicked for Train-the-Trainer Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training and received a "Certificate of Honor" from American Legion Post 649 commander.

Senior Airman Jonathan Hicks, NTF Junior-Tier Enlisted of the Year - Airman Hicks rewired and tested exposed wires on cluster bomb rack, powered through an Air Force wide arm solenoid shortage and performed nuclear MAU-12 inspections for the Nuclear Weapons System Evaluation Program. He earned the Distinguished Graduate Award from Airman Leadership School, was awarded his Community College of the Air Force degree, and earned six credits toward bachelor's degree. He's volunteered with Special Olympics athletes and wrapped gifts for Christmas Party fundraiser.

Staff Sgt. Jacob Hewitt, NTF Missile Security Enlisted of the Year – Sergeant Hewitt was a command and control expert during 20 Air Force Combat Compatibility Evaluation exercise, dispatched and directed response to 85 launch facility security situations, and led the tactical fire team in absence of and NCO. He earned nine credit hours toward Community College of the Air Force degree and participated in "Baskets for the Less Fortunate" program and Multiple Sclerosis Walk helping raise $15,000 for disease research.

Brenda Courcy, Senior Civilian of the Year - Ms. Courcy coordinated a $10.7 million worldwide software and hardware load improving Integrated Threat Warning and Attack Assessment operational accuracy, and successfully managed worldwide system upgrade. She enrolled in Air Command and Staff College finishing six courses toward her master's degree. She also volunteered at the Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association CyberCon and SpaceComm, and leads 24 girls as a Girl Scout Troop co-leader.

Davis Florick, Junior Civilian of the Year – Mr. Florick designed and implemented the first ever quantitative analysis of USSTRATCOM's plan to assess areas of concern and planned and executed Air Force Global Strike Chief Scientist visit to discuss nuclear weapon life extension programs. He completed his bachelor's degree with a 3.5 grade point average. His volunteer work includes mentoring 15 teenagers as head coach of the Omaha Eagles Track Club and working with 30 high school student athletes as an assistant coach for Bellevue West and Omaha Central varsity track teams.