97th OSS secretary receives 2021 SAIGE Award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Trenton Jancze
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Rosemary Cook, the 97th Operations Support Squadron commander’s secretary and a Navajo Nation native, received a 2021 Society of American Indian Government Employees Military Meritorious Service Award. The award honors military members, veterans, and Department of Defense employees who have risen above and beyond the mission, and whose character best represents the core values of their military branch.

As the 97th OSS secretary, Cook serves as her commander’s trusted representative, executing over 3,000 tasks and overseeing more than 140 additional duties. All of these were accomplished while under the strain of COVID-19.

While writing the commentary necessary to nominate her, U.S. Air Force Capt. Caleb Egli, 97th Air Mobility Wing executive officer, praised Cook for her accomplishments at the squadron.

“Mrs. Rosemary Cook is, without embellishment, the lifeblood of the 97th OSS,” said Egli. “She has devoted years of service to ensuring the smooth operation of the 97th AMW’s most diverse squadron.”

Cook said she takes pride and joy in the work that she does at the squadron, especially because she’s one of the first faces new members see when they report to the squadron.

“When people come into the squadron, I’m the first person they see,” said Cook. “I want to be able to give them a warm welcome. Everybody knows they can come to me too. When they need help, my door is always open for them.”

Belonging to an extensive history of military service and having proud Native American heritage has shaped Cook into the Airman she is today. Cook’s father, sister and two grandfathers served in the military, as well as her husband who currently serves with the 97th Maintenance Group. Drawing upon her military and Native American heritage, Cook has been able to bridge the gap between the two on Altus Air Force Base.

“Her superior work ethic and positive image, both on and off duty, contributed immeasurably to promoting greater understanding of the American Indian culture for the people of Altus Air Force Base,” said Egli. “As a member of the Navajo Nation, Mrs. Cook has proudly represented her background across the base, helping to educate others about Native heritage.”

As one of ten total winners across the United States out of over 3,000 nominees, Cook was completely caught off guard when she found out she had been awarded the honor. 

“It was awesome,” said Cook. “Not only were veterans and retirees nominated, but also active duty, and to be included with them was like ‘oh my goodness.’”

Although Cook was surprised by winning the award, everyone in the squadron rooted for her because of the efforts she makes every day. 

“Mrs. Rosemary Cook is an exemplary patriot with a sterling work effort who has contributed immeasurably to her squadron, group, and wing,” said Egli. “ She leverages her strengths as an Air Force veteran, spouse, and Navajo to be the ideal version of an Airman -- a strong servant-leader.”