131st Bomb Wing "Outstanding Airmen-of-the-Year" winners announced at drill weekend ceremonies Published Dec. 23, 2009 By Master Sgt. Mary-Dale Amison 131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs 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."