Florida honors Airmen of the Year for 2012

Written by  //  February 11, 2012  //  Feature Stories

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Florida Air National Guard State Command Chief Master Sgt. Robert Lee (left) and Florida Air National Guard Commander Brig. Gen. Joseph Balskus prepare to award the Florida Distinguished Service Medal to 2012 Airmen of the Year Senior Airman Michael Summers Jr., Master Sgt. Chad Guillet, Master Sgt. Natalie Cooper, Senior Master Sgt. Gerald Pangelinan, Tech. Sgt. Richard Mongold, and Tech. Sgt. Douglas Henry, Feb. 10, 2012 at the World Golf Village. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2012) – Respect, honor and excellence were reflected in the eyes of more than 200 Airmen and their families Friday evening, as the Florida Air National Guard selected its “2012 Airmen of the Year.”

The six “Outstanding Airmen of the Year” were presented awards for their dedication and achievement during the annual ceremony at the World Golf Village by Commander of the Florida Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Joseph Balskus and State Command Chief Master Sgt. Robert Lee.

The general lauded the winners and all 2012 Airmen of the Year nominees, and called on everyone present to embody the core values of the U.S. Air Force and follow the tenets Airman’s Creed.

“Airmen of this organization: we are extremely proud of you,” Balskus said. “As I looked into your eyes tonight, I saw American Airmen…I saw people who ‘get it’ and care.”

The general added that every member of the Florida Air National Guard should follow the examples of excellence set by the Airmen of the Year, and look at the core values of U.S. Air Force – Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do – on a daily basis.

Balskus and Lee presented awards to Airmen from units throughout the state for the categories of Airman of the Year, Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, First Sergeant of the Year, Honor Guard Member of the Year, and Honor Guard Manager of the Year.

The six Airmen that were chosen for the prestigious awards were: Senior Airman Michael Summers Jr., Master Sgt. Chad Guillet, Master Sgt. Natalie Cooper, Senior Master Sgt. Gerald Pangelinan, Tech. Sgt. Richard Mongold, and Tech. Sgt. Douglas Henry.

Each of the winners received the Florida Distinguished Service Medal, and will go on to compete nationally at the U.S. Air Force level.

Airman of the Year Senior Airman Michael Summer Jr. is a Network Infrastructure Journeyman at the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. He was born at Seymore Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., and graduated from Melbourne High School in Melbourne, Fla., in 2001. He has an Associates of Science Degree in Network Security and is currently enrolled at the University of Central Florida working towards his Bachelors of Science Degree in Computer Security Systems. He joined the Florida Air National Guard in 2008, and in 2010 deployed with MacDill’s Joint Communications Support Element to Afghanistan for six months. He is presently employed as an Engineering Computing Technician in Palm Bay, Fla.

Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year Tech. Sgt. Chad Guillet is a Systems Control, Telemetry and Command System Operator at the 114th Range Operations Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base. Originally from Woonsocket, R.I., he joined the Rhode Island Army National Guard in 1995, served in Iraq from April 2004 to April 2005. He joined the Florida Air National Guard in June 2006, and he is a subject matter expert on the Transportable Command and Telemetry System (TCATS) at the 114th Range Operations Squadron. Since 2009 he has served full-time as the unit’s Quality Assurance Expert. He has a degree in Business Management from the Community College of Rhode Island.

Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year Master Sgt. Natalie Cooper is a Knowledge Operations Craftsman for the Florida Air National Guard, Headquarters Detachment 1, at Tyndall Air Force Base. She is originally from Los Angeles, Calif., and entered the active duty Air Force in 1997. After serving a four-year assignment at Hurlburt Field, Fla., she transferred to the California National Guard in 2001. In 2002 she joined the Florida Air National Guard, where she served at the Southeast Air Defense Sector, and later the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall. In 2008 she joined the Florida Air National Guard, Headquarters Detachment 1, where she is administratively responsible from F-22/F-35 instructor pilots and enlisted members.  Her duties also include Acting Group First Sergeant.

First Sergeant of the Year Senior Master Sgt. Gerald Pangelinan is First Sergeant at the 125th Fighter Wing (HQ/OPS) in Jacksonville, Fla. He is originally from Guam, and began his military career in 1986 with the U.S. Army, serving in Air Defense Artillery on active duty. He subsequently served in the U.S. Army Reserves and the Guam Air National Guard. In 1997 he joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves, and two years later transferred to the Florida Air National Guard’s 125th Fighter Wing as an Electrical Systems Journeyman. During this time he was instrumental in starting the Junior Enlisted Council at the 125th, and served as its first president. In 2008 he was selected at the First Sergeant for the 125th Fighter Wing Headquarters. As a civilian he is a Police Officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Honor Guard Member of the Year Tech. Sgt. Richard Mongold is a Cyber Transport Systems Specialist at the 114th Range Operations Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base. He is originally from West Virginia, and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1999 as a Pharmacy Technician.  After serving at the 45th Space Wing, he retrained as a Computer Operator and received a follow-on assignment to the 30th Space Communications Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. In 2008 he transition to the Florida Air National Guard’s 114th Range Operations Squadron as a Cyber Transport Systems Specialist. Since May 2011 he has been working with the Patrick Air Force Base Honor Guard team, assisting with an average of 65 military funerals a month.

Honor Guard Manager of the Year Tech. Sgt. Douglas Henry is a Special Vehicle Maintenance Technician at the 114th Range Operations Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base. In addition he is a member of the Patrick Air force Base Honor Guard team serving on a voluntary activation tour at the newly opened South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Fla. He is originally from Pennsylvania, and enlisted in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard in 1987 as a Ground Radio Maintenance Technician. He subsequently served in the Iowa Air National Guard as a Public Health Technician, and later joined the Florida Air National Guard. He is currently enrolled in the Community College of the Air Force.

Other nominees for the 2012 Outstanding Airman of the Year included: Staff Sgt. Stephen McGuire from the 101st Air Operations Group; Senior Airman Ethan Labonte from the 114th Range Operations Squadron; Senior Airman Julio Quinones from the 202nd RED HORSE Squadron; and Airman 1st Class Stephanie Karst from the 125th Fighter Wing. Also nominated for the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year were: Tech. Sgt. Kenny Geisendorff from the 202nd RED HORSE Squadron; Tech. Sgt. Thomas Mahan from the Weather Readiness Training Center; Tech. Sgt. Charles Wilkie from the 125th Fighter Wing; Tech. Sgt. Michael Wilson from the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron; and Staff Sgt. Brett Dunning from the 101st Air Operations Group. Also nominated for the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year were: Senior Master Sgt. Richard Hardy from the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron; Senior Master Sgt. Eric McClendon from the 125th Fighter Wing; Master Sgt. Todd Carballo from the Weather Readiness Training Center; Master Sgt. Jami Osborn from the 114th Range Operations Squadron; Master Sgt. Crystal Register from the 202nd RED HORSE Squadron; and Master Sgt. Karrie Warren from the 101st Air Operations Group. Other Honor Guard Members of the Year nominees included: Master Sgt. Juan Guzman-Camacho from the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron; Master Sgt. Richard Phillips from the 101st Air Operations Group; and Master Sgt. Paul Still from the 125th Fighter Wing. Tech. Sgt. John Hartzell from the 101st Air Operations Group was also nominated for the Honor Guard Manager of the Year.

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