Officials honor annual award winners

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
Officials from the 353rd Special Operations Group honored more than 65 annual and functional area award winners and the group's top squadron during its 2010 Annual Awards Luncheon here Feb. 10.

The 320th Special Tactics Squadron captured the 2010 Squadron of the Year Award.

The individual award winners are:

Airman of the Year
Senior Airman Jonnathan Clay, 17th Special Operations Squadron

During 2010, Airman Clay proved he was a stellar performer by capturing the SOG and Team Kadena Airman of the Quarter for the second quarter and Airman of the Month while deployed. He became the first Airman to graduate from the U.S. Marine Corps Corporal's Course Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. He even garnered his classes Gung Ho Award, which is awarded to the member of the class the students vote for who displays the most motivation through the course. His meticulous work ethic guided him in reviewing and updating office processes and procedures improving proficiency 40 percent and saving 88 man-hours per year. Airman Clay even headed his offices preparation by Air Force Special Operations Command earning him and his processes accolades from the inspectors.

In his off-duty time, he completed his associate's degree and 21 hours toward his bachelor's. Airman Clay also serves Team Kadena's Airmen Against Drunk Driving president.

Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
Staff Sgt. Daniel Van Stone, 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron

Labeled by his leaders as an outstanding NCO, Sergeant Van Stone started 2010 by capturing the SOG and Team Kadena NCO of the Quarter Awards for the first quarter. His attention to detail was apparent in his flawless staff assistant visit from 18th Wing readiness officials. He rewrote 26 shelter operations checklists standardizing procedures for 11 facilities managers across nine buildings. He also developed 32 Unit Control Center checklists and trained UCC staff more than 300 contingency tasks. As a key player in preparing the SOG for its upcoming readiness inspection, Sergeant Van Stone procured over $13,000 in needed equipment, crafted more than 120 exercise injects, taught hundreds of SOG and 18th Wing Airmen readiness classes and led multiple hands-on scenarios to apply what he taught in his classes. The readiness NCO was also handpicked as a fly-away security team augmentee and completed two mission providing security for more than 16 hours.

In his spare time, Sergeant Van Stone completed his master's degree and received 3 credits for an emergency management certification. He also earned the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for more than 500 hours of sustained involvement with numerous organizations.

Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
Master Sgt. Johnny Miller, 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron

Sergeant Miller's award-winning year saw him lead almost 80 maintenance professionals from more than 5 specialties and save the Air Force countless time and money. He established the first-ever AFSOC corrosion prevention schedule checklist, which saved more than $600,000 and is now command's standard. He also authored 112 technical assistance requests where he engaged aircraft engineers and reduced response time from 72 to 24 hours saving 224 not mission capable maintenance days. Sergeant Miller orchestrated repair of more 1,000 aircraft discrepancies and unscheduled maintenance events for the MC-130H Combat Talon II with a 100 percent maintenance scheduling effectiveness rate. He also designed and built an ALR-69 unprotected runway landing shield saved $118,000 in antennae damage, Warner-Robbins Air Logistics Center approved and submitted this change to aircraft technical orders. The maintenance flight superintendant skillfully submitted four quality deficiency reports that saved the more than $540,000 and reinvigorated the structural maintenance section's scrap metal recycling program returning $15,000 to AFSOC.

While off duty, Sergeant Miller completed his community College of the Air Force in Aviation Maintenance Technology and 12 hours toward a business degree. He also taught ethics and core values to more than 40 NCOs at an enhancement seminar and provided 80 hours of English language basics instruction to more than 80 Japanese students.

First Sergeant of the Year
Master Sgt. LaToya Edwards, 320th Special Tactics Squadron

Sergeant Edwards spent 2010 serving as the first sergeant for the sole special tactics unit in the U.S. Pacific Command responsibility, but provided her guidance and leadership a much larger audience. Within her squadron, she initiated a military writing course, published a writing guide and instituted quarterly forum for discussions with NCOs and supervisors.She served as the first sergeant advisor for almost 200 dorm residents guiding them to two dorm of the quarter wins. She also deployed as the first sergeant for over 100 SOG Airmen in Malaysia where she spearheaded a sports day, beach clean-up and orphanage visit with their Royal Malaysian Air Force counterparts. The first sergeant also served on panels for 18th Wing professional development seminars and First Term Airman Center.

Sergeant Edwards is also a tireless academic. He completed her third CCAF degree and is working on her management degree. She became a certified Drug Abuse Resistance Education instructor and taught almost 200 students the dangers of abusing legal and illegal substances. She also served as the Operation Warmheart president helping needy families and served as a coach for the Kadena High School football team.

Company Grade Officer of the Year
Capt Brandon Pablo, 17th Special Operations Squadron

Captain Pablo spent a large portion of 2010 deployed supporting coalition conventional and special operations forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. Serving as the lead navigator on his crew, he flew more than 65 missions encompassing more than 320 combat hours delivering more than 1,000 coalition troops, more than 1.5 million pounds of mission critical cargo to austere airfields. While not deployed, he was handpicked by the 353rd SOG commander to lead a joint exercise integrating U.S. Army Special Forces, 18 Wing personnel, pararescuemen into a realistic training scenario. He also led a 15-person exercise cell coordinating ranges, airspace, schedules for seven aircraft and a large ground force with seamless execution. AFSOC inspectors praised the captain during an inspection for the way he revamped the group's "War Week" exercises. He also served as the lead planner on three-week exercise that was key to SOG personnel meeting more than 22 AFSOC requirements.

In his off-duty time, Captain Pablo is rapidly pursuing his Master's Degree in Military History. He also works tirelessly on his personal physical fitness and develops programs for coworkers to help raise their fitness levels. His even mentors other officers on developmental education to improve their study skills leading to a 100-percent pass rate.

Civilian of the Year, Category I
Ms. Kathrine Kosmala, 320th Special Tactics Squadron

Ms. Kosmala served 2010 with the 320th STS leading a near perfect administrative machine in a high-tempo unit. As the main point of contact most of the evaluations, decorations and other administrative paperwork in the unit, she processed countless pieces of correspondence earning the 320th STS the right to say they are the only unit in the group with 100 percent on-time stats. She also corrected 42 discrepancies within personal information files for squadron members. The secretary even provided much-needed computer training on numerous critical computer tracking systems. Ms. Kosmala streamlined the unit staff meeting process with unparalleled efficiency reducing the meeting time by 25 percent. By transitioning the staff meeting process to SharePoint she was also able to reduce members' workload by 10 percent.

While away from work, Ms. Kosmala completed a 450-hour internship program as part of the process to complete a Master's Degree in Human Relations. She is also heavily involved in private organizations within two squadrons and the special activities chair for Kadena's Officer Spouses Club.

Civilian of the Year, Category II
Mr. David Sterle, 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron

Mr. Sterle spent 2010 as one of the group's most trusted advisors on key plans and events affecting the 353rd SOG. Not only did he group's lead planner the largest Joint Chiefs of Staff exercise, but he also drove a comprehensive annual planning operations exercises between U.S. and Republic of Korea forces. He also worked steadily with group tactics personnel to design and field a state-of-the-art mission planning cell and joint operations center streamlining operations and planning processes. Mr. Sterle even authored a capabilities brief for group leadership to brief high-level Republic of Korea military leaders outlining the vital mission of the 353rd SOG. He even pitched in to solve a flight information publications problem for deployed forces ensuring minimal impact to the deployed mission. The contingency plans specialist also spent more than 100 days deployed supporting key group operations.

Throughout the year, Mr. Sterle attended conferences and training classes and scoured military history for lessons learned and other information to look at ways to improve mission planning effectiveness in the group. He also volunteered for multiple trips to clean-up public area off base sponsored a teen orphan at his home during the holidays.