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Missouri Air National Guard selects Outstanding Airmen of 2017

The Missouri Air National Guard 2017 Outstanding Airmen of the year are joined by Brig. Gen. Michael Francis, Missouri assistant adjutant general - Air, and Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Hamlett, the Missouri Air National Guard command chief. Pictured from left to right: Hamlett, Master Sgt. Bernadine Eastridge, (Missouri Air National Guard Command Chief Award winner) 139th Airlift Wing, Master Sgt. Kirsten Inwood, (First Sergeant of the Year) 131st Bomb Wing, Staff Sgt. Nanci Young, (NCO of the Year) 139th AW, Senior Airman Jael Watson, (Airman of the Year) 131st BW, Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Mullins, (Senior NCO of the Year) 139th AW, and Francis.

The Missouri Air National Guard 2017 Outstanding Airmen of the year are joined by Brig. Gen. Michael Francis, Missouri assistant adjutant general - Air, and Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Hamlett, the Missouri Air National Guard command chief. Pictured from left to right: Hamlett, Master Sgt. Bernadine Eastridge, (Missouri Air National Guard Command Chief Award winner) 139th Airlift Wing, Master Sgt. Kirsten Inwood, (First Sergeant of the Year) 131st Bomb Wing, Staff Sgt. Nanci Young, (NCO of the Year) 139th AW, Senior Airman Jael Watson, (Airman of the Year) 131st BW, Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Mullins, (Senior NCO of the Year) 139th AW, and Francis. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Traci Howells)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo --

The Missouri Air National Guard’s top performers of 2017 were announced at the Outstanding Airmen of the Year Banquet held here Thursday.

 Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, Missouri Adjutant General, recognized more than a dozen Citizen-Airmen from the 131st Bomb Wing, headquartered here, the 139th Airlift Wing, based at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, in St. Joseph, and from the Jefferson City-based Joint Forces Headquarters for their unit-level awards, with his recognition coin, prior to kicking off the evening’s event.

Winners in the wing-level enlisted categories competed for state-level honors. Those winners are:

  • Airman category: Senior Airman Jael Watson, 131st BW
  • Non-Commissioned Officer category: Staff Sgt. Nanci Young, 139th AW
  • Senior Noncommissioned Officer category: Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Mullins, 131st BW
  • First Sergeant category: Master Sgt. Kirsten Inwood, 131st BW

Brig. Gen. Michael Francis, assistant adjutant general-air, and Chief Master Sgt. Hamlett, Missouri command chief, presided over the ceremony, and presented each enlisted winner with a Minuteman statue trophy and the Air Force Commendation Medal in recognition of their service and accomplishments across the year.

“These Airmen have performed admirably — in their AFSCs and in demonstrated leadership in their wings and in their communities,” said Francis. “Each deserves great personal credit for this accomplishment, but for every winner that I spoke with, each also had a mentor that gave them coaching and critical feedback that helped them along the way. Thank you to those leaders and supervisors for being a catalyst for excellence, by our winners and across our wings.”

Master Sgt. Bernadine Eastridge, 139th AW Staff, received the Missouri Air National Guard Command Chief Award. This special recognition is awarded to a top performer amongst all enlisted nominees not otherwise recognized in their category, and was selected by the three Command Chief Master Sergeants: Joseph Hamlett from Joint Forces Headquarters; Kris Neros from the 139th AW; and Jessica Settle from the 131st BW.

Unit-level award winners were:

Airman of the Year category:

  • Senior Airman Jael Watson, 131st Maintenance Squadron
  • Senior Airman Chayla Hurd, 139th Medical Group
  • Senior Airman Mitchel Cochran, Joint Force Headquarters

NCO of the Year category:

  • Tech. Sgt. Matthew Lakin, 239th Combat Communications Squadron
  • Staff Sgt. Nanci Young, 139th AW Staff

SNCO of the Year category:

  • Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Mullins, 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
  • Master Sgt. Bernadine Eastridge, 139th AW Staff
  • Senior Master Sgt. Paula Runyon, Joint Force Headquarters

First Sergeant of the Year category:

  • Master Sgt. Kirsten Inwood, 131st Medical Group
  • Master Sgt. Paul Jackson, 139th Mission Support Group

Company Grade Officer of the Year:

  • Capt. Ryan Forristal, 131st Logistics Readiness Squadron
  • 1st Lt. Michael Lewis, 139th Mission Support Group
  • 1st Lt. Sean Navarro, Joint Force Headquarters

Field Grade Officer:

  • Maj. Jeffrey Bishop, 131st BW Staff
  • Maj. Kristie Miller, 139th Medical Group

The state-level enlisted award winners will go on to compete at the Air National Guard level.