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131st Bomb Wing "Outstanding Airmen-of-the-Year" winners announced at drill weekend ceremonies

Master Sgt Ken Huff, 131AMXS, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 5 at Whiteman Air Force Base.  Huff was recognized for his contributions to Lambert ANGB to Whiteman AFB transition efforts.  (Air Force Photo by Tech Sgt Chris Boehlein   RELEASED)

Master Sgt Ken Huff, 131AMXS, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 5 at Whiteman Air Force Base. Huff was recognized for his contributions to Lambert ANGB to Whiteman AFB transition efforts. (Air Force Photo by Tech Sgt Chris Boehlein RELEASED)

Maj Ryan "Poacher" Bailey, 131BW, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, at the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 5 at Whiteman Air Force Base.  Bailey was chosen as the 131st Outstanding Pilot of the Year-2009  (Air Force Photo by Tech Sgt Chris Boehlein   RELEASED)

Maj Ryan "Poacher" Bailey, 131BW, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, at the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 5 at Whiteman Air Force Base. Bailey was chosen as the 131st Outstanding Pilot of the Year-2009 (Air Force Photo by Tech Sgt Chris Boehlein RELEASED)

Members of the 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, gather at the Motorpool at Lambert-Saint Louis ANGB for the Outstanding Airman of the Year Ceremony on Dec 6.  The same ceremony was held at Whiteman Air Force Base on December 5 so all wing members could participate.  (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison RELEASED)

Members of the 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, gather at the Motorpool at Lambert-Saint Louis ANGB for the Outstanding Airman of the Year Ceremony on Dec 6. The same ceremony was held at Whiteman Air Force Base on December 5 so all wing members could participate. (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison RELEASED)

First Lieutenant Chad Larson, 131FSS, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 6 at Lambert-Saint Louis ANGB.  Larson was recognized for his contributions to Lambert ANGB to Whiteman AFB transition efforts.  (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison   RELEASED)

First Lieutenant Chad Larson, 131FSS, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 6 at Lambert-Saint Louis ANGB. Larson was recognized for his contributions to Lambert ANGB to Whiteman AFB transition efforts. (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison RELEASED)

Tech Sgt William Blankenship, 239CBCS, Outstanding NCO of the Year 2009, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 6 at Lambert-Saint Louis ANGB..  (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison   RELEASED)

Tech Sgt William Blankenship, 239CBCS, Outstanding NCO of the Year 2009, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 6 at Lambert-Saint Louis ANGB.. (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison RELEASED)

Master Sgt  Curtis Hanock, 131LRS, Outstanding Senior NCO of the Year 2009, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 6 at Lambert-Saint Louis ANGB..  (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison   RELEASED)

Master Sgt Curtis Hanock, 131LRS, Outstanding Senior NCO of the Year 2009, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 6 at Lambert-Saint Louis ANGB.. (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison RELEASED)

First Lieutenant Mike Durbin, 131FM, Outstanding Officer of the Year 2009, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 6 at Lambert-Saint Louis ANGB..  (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison   RELEASED)

First Lieutenant Mike Durbin, 131FM, Outstanding Officer of the Year 2009, receives an Eagle trophy from Col Robert Leeker, 131st Bomb Wing commander, during the 131st Outstanding Airman of the Year awards on Dec 6 at Lambert-Saint Louis ANGB.. (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison RELEASED)

Senior Airman Brandon Long, 131AMXS, Missouri Air National Guard, stands on the flightline at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri on Dec 17.  Long was chosen as the 131st Outsanding Airman of the Year-2009  (Air Force Photo by MSgt Mary-Dale Amison   RELEASED)

Senior Airman Brandon Long, 131AMXS, Missouri Air National Guard, stands on the flightline at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri on Dec 17. Long was chosen as the 131st Outsanding Airman of the Year-2009 (Air Force Photo by MSgt Mary-Dale Amison RELEASED)

131st Bomb Wing Command Chief Master Sgt Lisa Kessinger announced the enlisted 131st Bomb Wing Outstanding Airman of the Year winners at ceremonies held on Dec 5 at Whiteman and Dec 6 at Lambert ANGB-Saint Louis.  She also provided words on leadership at the events.  "Many of you remember my past sayings of 'Make it Great in 2008' and 'Shine in 2009.'  Today I bring you 'Mission Ready to Defend in 2010!'"  (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison RELEASED)

131st Bomb Wing Command Chief Master Sgt Lisa Kessinger announced the enlisted 131st Bomb Wing Outstanding Airman of the Year winners at ceremonies held on Dec 5 at Whiteman and Dec 6 at Lambert ANGB-Saint Louis. She also provided words on leadership at the events. "Many of you remember my past sayings of 'Make it Great in 2008' and 'Shine in 2009.' Today I bring you 'Mission Ready to Defend in 2010!'" (Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Mary-Dale Amison RELEASED)

Lambert IAP -- Members and units of the 131st Bomb Wing were recognized, and the winners of the 131st Outstanding Enlisted, Officer and Pilot of the Year categories were announced in ceremonies held at Whiteman Air Force Base Dec. 5 and at Lambert Field Dec. 6.

Col. Robert Leeker, 131st BW commander, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Kessinger, 131st BW, officiated at both ceremonies.

"2009 will be remembered as the year that we saw the End of an Era, flying from Lambert Field for 86 years. The historical significance of the end of Air National Guard flying from Lambert will take years to truly understand," said Colonel Leeker, in his opening remarks. "But I cannot help to think, that as part of that history, you will be recognized for how well you did your jobs."

He added, "You did an outstanding job, each and every one of you, including members of the 239th Combat Communications Squadron, the 231st Civil Engineering Flight, and the 571st Air Force Band; you were all part of it, you did your job, as difficult as it was, to finish out flying, closing down a flying operation that had operated for 86 years and you did it with extraordinary accomplishments and honor. As I said on June 13th, End of an Era.....Mission Complete."

Chief Kessinger addressed the assembly with comments on leadership and BRAC, "My Mother always said that something good always came from something bad. BRAC brought us that - It took our common way of life as Guardsmen and faced us with changes, confusion, and decisions and most of all challenged our core values as Guardsmen."

"We displayed our integrity by placing service before self, we transitioned with honor, and placed emphasis on excellence in all we do," she added. "Your responsibility doesn't stop with boots on ground, a promotion, training completed or new uniforms on your back.......it begins here today.... That we grasp on to the mission at hand, exploit our leadership and mentoring capabilities as we walk along side our Senior Leaders and together continue to enhance our Wing's Mission Readiness to defend in 2010. I charge you to make this a better Wing than you found it."

The following individuals competed for top honors in the "Of the Year" competition:

AIRMAN 2009:

Senior Airman Anthony Randazzo - 239th CBCS

Senior Airman Jon Tygart - 131SFS

Senior Airman Brandon Long - 131MXS

The winner: Senior Airman Brandon Long - 131MXS

JUNIOR NCO 2009:

Tech. Sgt. William Blankenship - 239 CBCS

Staff Sgt. Carl Beasley - 131SFS

Tech. Sgt. James Bradley - 131MXS

The winner: Tech. Sgt. William Blankenship - 239 CBCS

SENIOR NCO 2009:

Master Sgt. Curtis Hanock - 131LRS

Master Sgt. Alvin Sims - 131OG

Master Sgt. Gerald Jones - 131AMXS

Tech. Sgt. Anthony Ross - 131BW

The winner: Master Sgt. Curtis Hanock - 131LRS

OFFICER 2009:

1st Lt. Chad Larson - 131FSS

1st Lt. Mike Durbin - 131FM

Maj. Thomas "Cujo" Hatley - 131BW

Capt. Jason Schneider - 239th CBCS

The winner: 1st Lt Mike Durbin - 131FM

PILOT 2009:

Chosen from a group of sixteen pilots.

The winner: Maj. Ryan "Poacher" Bailey - 131BW

RECOGNITION FOR OUTSTANDING ACCOMPLISHMENT IN TOTAL FORCE INTEGRATION:

1st Lt. Chad Larson - 131FSS

Master Sgt. Ken Huff - 131AMXS

Maj. Thomas "Cujo" Hatley - 131BW

"You are writing history.....the first and only ANG unit to ever fly the world's premier bomber, the B-2, ready to knock down the enemies doors at a moment's notice.....side by side with our active duty brethren, from your own back yard of Missouri," said Colonel Leeker. "Folks, that is history and you are part of it.....be proud of what you are accomplishing now and what you have done in the past. I know I am proud of each and every one of you, and I couldn't be more proud to be associated with such a world-class unit."