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Altus paralegal wins USAF JAG award

man holds award

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Darrell Thorman, a military justice paralegal with the 97th Air Mobility Wing Staff Judge Advocate Office, holds up his Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps’ Paralegal of the Month award for July at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, July 15, 2020. Thorman earned the award in part by taking on increased responsibility as the acting noncommissioned officer in charge of his unit while it was undermanned. (U.S. Air Force Photo by 2nd Lt. Cameron Silver)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

COVID-19 has challenged military members worldwide and forced Airmen across many career fields to adapt in different ways. Senior Airman Darrell Thorman and the rest of the 97th Air Mobility Wing Staff Judge Advocate Office were no exception.

In July, the strain of the pandemic and manning limitations left the legal office at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. significantly shorthanded. This is when Thorman, a military justice paralegal, stepped up and took on additional duties as the acting NCO in charge of his unit. In recognition of his efforts, he was awarded the Air Force JA General Corps’ Paralegal of the Month.

That was no easy task, Thorman explained, as there is little room for error in the JA office. Their mission is to provide the Air Force, commanders, and Airmen with professional, full-spectrum legal support, at the speed of relevance, for mission success in joint and coalition operations. This requires the compilation and creation of numerous legal documents, as well as enacting lasting legislation.

“This is important work,” he said. “Everything we do is going to be permanent.”

During this period, Thorman oversaw 20 military justice actions and frequently met with Office of Special Investigations agents and first sergeants to provide legal support on discipline matters. He also took the legal office to new heights, increasing their overall effectiveness in executing Article 15s by 66 percent.

When asked how he was able to step into the shoes of an NCO so early in his Air Force career, he gave all the credit to his team.

“Everyone at the office did a great job of preparing me for that,” said Thorman. “I learned more in the last three months than I would have otherwise.”

Outside of work, Thorman lends a hand to Altus’ Spark Cell innovation office. He loves tinkering with technology and even helped design a new collar prototype for military working dogs.

“SrA Thorman exemplifies the dedication of all Airmen in the Mighty 97th,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michelle Marty, 97th AMW SJA. “His can-do attitude and exceptional service, beyond his basic job description and skill level, are great examples for all junior Airmen who are asked to step up during a difficult time.”

If you ask Thorman, he could not have done it alone.

“My name may be on the award, but it’s not really mine. It just tells me how amazing this office is.”