Story by Senior Airman Brandon Esau and Senior Airman Dennis Spain, Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs
Air Commandos came together to honor the top performers throughout Air Force Special Operations Command during the Outstanding Airmen of the Year and Annual Award winners banquet May 13, 2021. The banquet honored the best Airmen and civilians in AFSOC during 2020. Leadership from across the enterprise nominated the winners due to their commitment to excellence, both professionally and personally.
The 2020 AFSOC OAY and Annual Award recipients are:
Senior Airman Brett P. Stalboerger, 27th Special Operations Medical Support Squadron
Stalboerger filled a Technical Sergeant role for 6 months and provided IT support for four squadrons with 319 personnel all while managing over 1,400 pieces of equipment. The Senior Airman Below-The-Zone winner also drove the 27th Special Operations Medical Group IT help desk and resolved close to 400 incidents and alleviated over 24,000 errors. He also was a base honor guard team lead during which he executed 26 details to help advocate Air Force heritage and tradition to more than 500 attendees.
Tech. Sgt. Sean P. Moore, 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron
Moore authored the largest personnel recovery integration plan by organizing a 19 member team to sync up with seven squadrons with joint hospitals to improve survivor resiliency. By leading personnel recovery operations, he also enabled nine geographical combatant commander and Secretary of Defense directed missions within the South China Sea and forged new long-range U.S. Indo-Pacific Command rescue capabilities. Moore was named the Non-commissioned Officer Academy Distinguished Graduate by completing over 200 hours of professional military education coursework and was in the top 10% of a class with 100 peers.
Senior Non-commissioned Officer
Master Sgt. Hannah E. Walters, 67th Special Operations Support Squadron
Walters filled an operations superintendent role and deployed 18 aircrews to support two national command operations and two combatant commands. She was also the senior enlisted leader for a multi-national exercise in which she led 91 personnel and managed three aircraft, which helped cement NATO alliance and counter adversarial efforts. Furthermore, Walters was a Special Operations University Enterprise Management honor graduate by completing eight weeks and over 150 hours of coursework which further prepared her to lead in a joint environment.
Senior Master Sgt. Jose G. Velazquez-Morales, 352nd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Velazquez-Morales prepared more than 280 Airmen and supported 750 sorties, 40 aircraft recovery teams and over 3,600 flight hours and also helped guide RAF Mildenhall’s COVID-19 pandemic readiness by leading beddown efforts. He led unit readiness during the deployment of 73 members who supported two missions authorized by the President of the United States within the first-ever Special Operations Forces deployment integration cycle. Velazquez-Morales was the First Sergeant Council president and led 28 Shirts towards achieving AFSOC First Sergeant Council of the Year.
Base Honor Guard Member
Senior Airman Ernest L. Modkins, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron
Modkins filled a non-commissioned officer in charge position in which he managed three flights, coordinated 46 details, and implemented training standards to 34 recruits, which earned him 27th Special Operations Wing Guardsman of the Year. He also guided the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march which helped upheld civil rights legacy for 400 attendees. Modkins led asset inventory by organizing and maintaining ceremonial items, uniforms, and contracts, and was able to procure an $8,000 facility upgrade.
Base Honor Guard Program Manager
Master Sgt. Philip C. McAnulty Jr., 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron
McAnulty led 70 Airman from four wings and organized 500 honors within a two-state area of responsibility, in which his team earned eight Letters of Appreciation, 67 Air Force Achievement Medals and 36 wing commander coins. He also managed and built a facility renovation plan by posturing the first renovation in 10 years to improve the quality of life for the 1st SOFSS Base Honor Guard program. McAnulty mastered Senior Enlisted Joint professional military education and earned the 1st SOFSS A1 Special Duty Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the Year award.
Company Grade Officer
Captain Nathan R. Peeler, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron
Peeler was the mission commander on a Secretary of Defense directed operation which enabled 110 tons of U.S. aid to Honduras and bolstered U.S. Southern Command partner capacity by engaging with Honduran partners. He also deployed as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller and flight commander during which he helped vanquish Taliban adversaries, expand U.S. Central Command access and was awarded a Bronze Star. Peeler spearheaded squadron reorganization which contained six flights, more than 100 members, a $1.9 million budget and more than $4 million worth of equipment.
Individual Reserve Officer
Major Julie A. Farrand, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command
Farrand oversaw AFSOC’s first joint light tactical vehicle configuration by syncing Air Force Special Tactics requirements for 114 vehicles worth $70 million, while also being her division’s exercise Agile Flag lead in which she coordinated with two MAJCOMs, 10 units and validated first integrated combat turn within the Forward Area Refueling Point mission. Farrand was also a community outreach leader for 120 volunteers and partnered with five non-profit organizations to raise more than $19,000 for local charities.
Individual Enlisted Airman
Staff Sgt. Peter J. Scialabba, 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron
Scialabba supervised his flight’s security operations and was command and control for 98 incident, 16 anti-robberies and 13 critical resource investigations, and was key to winning the 1st SOW’s Meritorious Unit Award. He also upheld the 1st SOW’s security posture through Hurricane Sally by enforcing 13 directives and managed flight shifts while teaming up with the fire department in three water rescues. Scialabba was a special needs advocate who volunteered 48 hours with Spectrum House and donated 2,000 pieces of equipment to boost the quality of life for 43 special needs children.
Civilian Category One
Mrs. Amber Turek, 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron
Mrs. Turek was the quarterback for multiple water rescues and braved 105 mile per hour Hurricane Sally winds and flood hazards to save three civilian lives. She managed her flight’s personal protective equipment program by leading 53 personnel through an inspection of more than 1,200 items and ensured more than $500,000 worth of mission critical assets were secure. Mrs. Turek advocated for the first DoD-wide “Women in Fire” initiative by contributing to the workshop and continuing an Air Force-wide culture shift to help women obtain leadership roles within the firefighting community.
Civilian Category Two
Ms. Danae Morales, 352nd Special Operations Support Squadron
Ms. Morales was the 352nd Special Operations Wing Civilian of the Year by managing the unit’s deployment management program in which she helped support 35 exercises and helped boost squadron readiness to 97%. She also helped prepare 34 personnel to deploy for NATO’s largest artic exercise by organizing multi-national clearances and moving 16.5 tons of equipment. Morales was selected to attend the Harvard ManageMentor course which prepared her for high-level leadership roles in the future.
Civilian Category Three
Ms. Janice Jones, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron
Ms. Jones was a key continuous process improvement influencer and her vision drove an integrated organization structure for all of AFSOC’s Resilience programs. She led the Air Force’s True North Resilience program roll-out for the command’s pilot community while also leading the launch of the new Preservation of the Force and Family’s Human Performance Program for the 27th Special Operations Group. Ms. Jones was also the Mental Health team chair for the United Way Youth Success Task Force in which she led the advocacy for a local in-patient psychological facility.
Civilian Category Four
Mr. Richard Sheridan, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command
Mr. Sheridan was known as a civil engineering subject matter expert by which he executed three site surveys for a new light attack aircraft, the Guardian Angel Training Course, and an AC-130J Ghostrider Formal Training Unit. He led the $774 million SOF Military Contract-East program by adapting projects to volatile U.S. and European stock markets. Mr. Sheridan was a local school volunteer and helped construct new gazebos and created class activity supplies for over 725 students.
Lieutenant General Jim Slife, commander of AFSOC, was the keynote speaker for the event.
”It is such a great honor to be here tonight to recognize the Airmen who put everything on the line, in the middle of a pandemic, to continue doing what we need all of our Airmen to each and every day,” he said. “Our people are our competitive advantage and the leaders we have here tonight allow for me to be confident that our force will succeed far into the future.”
Slife ended the night with a final word to the winners and those in attendance.
“These Airmen exemplify the fact that our Air Commandos – no matter their rank, career or location – are always prepared to serve their country and get after the mission with integrity, selfless and excellence in everything that we as a command do,” Slife said.