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Florissant resident named 2012 Missouri Air National Guard Senior NCO of the Year

Master Sgt. Eric Gremminger is the 2012 Missouri Air National Guard Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. A member of the 131st Security Forces Squadron at Lambert Airport, Gremminger is also a deputy sheriff for St. Charles County. (Air National Guard photo)

Master Sgt. Eric Gremminger is the 2012 Missouri Air National Guard Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. A member of the 131st Security Forces Squadron at Lambert Airport, Gremminger is also a deputy sheriff for St. Charles County. (Air National Guard photo)

SAINT LOUIS, Mo -- A Florissant man who wears two uniforms is the 2012 Outstanding Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for the Missouri Air National Guard.

Master Sgt. Eric J. Gremminger, 45, serves with the 131st Security Forces Squadron at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and is also a deputy sheriff with the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department.

A 22-year Guard veteran, Gremminger left the military briefly before reenlisting about 12 years ago, a decision that now seems fateful, given his most recent honor.

"Being selected as (Senior) Noncommissioned Officer of the Year is really quite humbling considering the laundry list of things that are considered," he said. "Leadership, fitness test scores and communication are just some of them."

Also considered is the recommendation of one's commanding officer, in Gremminger's case, 1st Lt. William Sarti.

"Master Sgt. Gremminger is my go-to guy," Sarti said. "I know I can rely on him 100-percent for anything. When I was an enlisted man in this unit I looked up to him for good advice and now that I'm his commander, it's still the same. A lot of our younger airmen who are looking to get into civilian law enforcement look to Master Sgt. Gremminger for career path advice. As a senior NCO he takes care of us."

And while Gremminger appreciates the accolades of his peers, he is most thankful for the support of the troops he leads.

"Taking care of my troops is my number one priority and my greatest honor," he said. "I wouldn't be where I am today without them."

Gremminger's distinguished military career includes numerous deployments both in and outside of the U.S.

"I've been to 26 foreign countries since I joined the Air National Guard," Gremminger said. "I was also deployed to St. Louis in response to the Great Flood of 1993 and to the south in response to Hurricane Katrina."

Among Gremminger's deployments was a mission to escort detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba back to their home countries.

"I volunteered for that deployment," he explained. "One of the reasons they wanted the Air Guard for that mission is because most of us in security forces have a civilian law enforcement background. We would escort detainees on a plane back to the Middle East, so I flew into Iraq and Afghanistan on those missions."

A 1985 graduate of Hazelwood Central High School, Gremminger also attended Florissant Valley Community College, where he majored in criminal justice and law enforcement.

He is the husband of Tammy Gremminger and the son of Robert and Georgia Gremminger of Florissant. Robert Gremminger is a retired Air National Guard officer.

When not serving his country or community in uniform, Master Sgt. Gremminger enjoys playing the drums, fishing and photography.

As Missouri Air National Guard Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Gremminger is now eligible for the same honor at the national level, along with three fellow Missouri Airmen in other categories. They are; Master Sgt. Sheldon Matthews, of Belleville, Ill., the First Sergeant of the Year, Senior Airman Scott S. Krueger, of St. Peters, the Airman of the Year, and Tech. Sgt. Frederick Pierce, the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

The 131st Security Forces Squadron is a subordinate unit of the 131st Bomb Wing, headquartered at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster, Mo.