301st Airmen shine among the rest

  • Published
  • By Command Chief Master Sgt. Rob Safley
  • 301st Fighter Wing

Col. Mitch Hanson, 301st Fighter Wing commander, and I have been traveling the past couple of weeks. We were at the USAF Academy for an immersion tour, and to see our SFS Defenders at the Combat Leadership Course. We were very impressed with their training, the level of detail that goes into their development, and the professionalism of the entire cadre--which included members from the FSS and MDS. Very inspiring watching them trek through the snow covered mountains and do what they do!  

We were also at an AFRC Commander/Command Chief conference in Florida. No surprise that all of the other wings have money, manpower, and time constraints like we do. On the plus side, we have great leadership in place, doing a phenomenal job of mitigating some of the circumstances and enabling our wing to focus on our priorities.  The second part of the conference was an Enlisted Symposium and AFRC Airman of the Year Awards. Each of the Numbered Air Force (Fourth AF, Tenth AF, and 22d AF) walked away with a winner in one category. 10AF won the Airman of the Year and the First Sergeant Council of the Year awards…which happens to belong to the Mighty 301st Fighter Wing.

As we were preparing the script of the upcoming Commander’s Call, the Boss noted that our warriors in the 301st rock! We have a wing full of superstars, and some have received recognition at the NAF, AFRC, and Headquarters Air Force levels! I certainly want to echo that our wing does ROCK and end my piece by recognizing our best-of-the-best superstars:  


  • SrA Maggie Caraballo, 301 FW FM, 2018 AFRC Financial Management Airman of the Year
  • MSgt Rudy Panacci, 301 OSF AFE, 2018 Outstanding AFRC SNCO of the Year
  • MSgt Rudy Panacci, 301 OSF AFE, 2018 Outstanding HAF/ARC SNCO of the Year
  • MSgt Carter S. Brazell, 73d APS, 2018 AFRC Outstanding Logistics Readiness Traditional Reservist SNCO of the Year
  • Maj Justin “Colt” Lewis, Lt Gen Howard W. Leaf Award (outstanding Wing Inspections Program Manager)
  • Capt Richard “Shank” Williams (495 FG), Ninth Air Force 2018 Anthony C. Shine Award (outstanding proficiency and professionalism in flying a fighter aircraft)


  • 301 FW IGI Team - Maj Gen Junius W. Jones award Cat. II winners for AFRC (outstanding Wing Commander’s Inspection Program)
  • 301 OSF Aircrew Flight Equipment - 2018 AFRC AFE Small Program of the Year
  • 301 FW First Sergeant Council - 2018 Tenth Air Force First Sergeant Council of the Year
  • 301 FW First Sergeant Council - 2018 AFRC Chief Carol Smits First Sergeant Council of the Year


  • Mitchell Brawner – 301st Fighter Wing CAT I Civilian of the Year
  • Jason Almodovar – 301st Fighter Wing CAT II Civilian of the Year
  • Raymond Knox – 301st Fighter Wing CAT III Civilian of the Year
  • SrA Liz Zapata-Ortiz – 301st Fighter Wing Airman of the Year
  • TSgt Zech Underwood – 301st Fighter Wing NCO of the Year
  • SMSgt Clay Jennings – 301st Fighter Wing SNCO of the Year
  • SMSgt Kyle Truelsen – 301st Fighter Wing First Sergeant of the Year
  • SMSgt Mary Staffeld – 301st Fighter Wing Henry D. Green Community Service Award
  • Capt.  Elizabeth VanPatten – 301st Fighter Wing CGO of the Year
  • Maj. Paul Hollrith – 301st Fighter Wing FGO of the Year
  • Mrs. Katie Loth – 301st Fighter Wing Key Spouse of the Year

Well done Fighter Wing…keep up the great work!

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