97 MSG wins numerous 2021 AETC, Air Force-level awards

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Miyah Gray
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Several units and members from the 97th Mission Support Group at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, won multiple Air Education and Training Command and Air Force level awards in 2021. 

The 97th MSG is comprised of six squadrons, and is the largest team at AAFB. The 97th MSG supports operational and training missions along with infrastructure support activities that include communications, civil engineering, fire and force protection, contracting, disaster response, environmental services, lodging, transportation, recreation, supply, education, mobility, family and personal support along with food service.

“Winning unit and individual awards at the MAJCOM level is a major achievement and it validates what we already know locally,” said Col. David Vanderburg, 97th MSG Commander. “We have some of the most inspired, proficient and adaptive Airmen in the entire Air Force right here at Altus AFB doing astounding things for the mission and the community.”

The 97th Civil Engineer Squadron received the Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ralph E. Sanborn Fire Department of the Year Award for exceptional medium-sized fire departments across the Air Force. The 97th CES also won the Brig. Gen. Michael A. McAuliffe Award for Housing Excellence and the Balchen/Post Award for outstanding performance by military snow and ice control personnel.

Several 97th CES Airmen also won individual awards. Senior Airman Matthew M. Panetta, 97th CES structural journeyman, won the Maj. Gen. Eugene A. Lupia Award, Airman 1st Class Joseph Mcgee-Convey, 97th CES firefighter, won the AETC Military Firefighter of the Year Award, David B. Wallace, 97th CES installation management flight chief, won the Harry P. Reitman Award, and Mitzi A. Sturdevant, 97th CES real property officer, won the CES Manager of the Year Award.

Tech Sgt. Andres Posada, 97th Security Forces kennel master, received the Military Working Dog Professional of the Year Award, the first ever Air Force-level award of its kind. 

“I’ve been in the Air Force for 15 years and this is the first time I’ve won any kind of award, so it’s a big deal, especially it being the first military working dog handler award,” said Posada. “I submitted an award package and someone acknowledged that it was a good effort.”

The 97th Contracting Squadron won the Outstanding Contracting Unit Award for outstanding performance within small units. Several 97th CONS Airmen also won individual awards. 1st Lt. Nathanial Burns, 97th CONS contracting officer, won the Outstanding Contracting Officer of the Year award, Kelsey Causey, 97th CONS contracting officer, won the Outstanding Contracting Civilian Award in the supervisory category, and Logan Hamm, 97th CONS contract specialist, won the Outstanding Civilian in Training Award.

“This is the first time in the 20 years that I’ve been here that we’ve won four awards. We’re super excited about that,” said Lori Clinton, 97th CONS director of business operations. “This is really a culmination of the work that we’ve put in to become the best mission-focused business leaders that we can be in order to make Altus a premier installation.”

From the 97th Communications Squadron, Gabrielle M. Wallace, 97th CS communication focal point IT specialist won the Gen. Jumper Award of Excellence in Warfighting Integration and Information Dominance Professional of the Year Award, Civilian Category I. This award recognizes individuals for outstanding performance and contributions to the integration of Air Force or Department of Defense warfighting and operations support capabilities. Christopher J. McMall, 97th CS mission defense team special mission flight director, won the same award for Civilian Category II.

Airman 1st Class Javonta Freeman, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron material manager, won the AETC Outstanding Logistics Readiness Airman of the Year Award.

“Receiving this award means a lot to me because not everyone gets the opportunity to get pushed for the award, let alone win,” said Freeman. “I’ve never received an award for anything, so to have something like this in my records is amazing.”

Lastly, The 97th Force Support Squadron received the Manpower Flight Award for outstanding mission accomplishment, innovation, leadership, management and customer focus. 

“I’m beyond proud of the achievements and strong work ethic of our Airmen,” said Vanderburg. “I know they will continue to make a tremendous difference and impact on our mission at Mobility’s Hometown. They are without question remarkable patriots and it’s been an absolute honor to serve beside each of them as we deliver airpower to our nation.”