VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Military and civilian Airmen were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the Vandenberg mission at the Team V Annual Award’s Ceremony at the Pacific Coast Club here Feb. 22.
In honor of the ceremony’s theme ‘Unveiling the Heroes Within,’ attendees sported their favorite superhero attire and annual award winners were presented with engraved Thor hammers.
“This year’s annual awards theme is fitting because I feel I work with superheroes every day,” said Col. Michael Hough, 30th Space Wing commander. “These awards are just a small token of appreciation to the commitment that is required to support safe range capabilities and an efficient spaceport for our Nation.”
The evening was enriched by speeches from Hollywood screenwriter Zack Stentz, who is known for his work on the X-Men movies, and Master Sgt. Scott Gearen, a retired Air Force pararescueman who showed heroism in his fight to overcome extreme adversity.
On his 90th jump, Gearen survived a 3,000 foot freefall when a team member fell through his parachute rendering it useless. Through perseverance and determination he recovered and was able to continue his career as a pararescueman.
“Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes wearing many uniforms, but I always thought that my Air Force uniform was the best superhero uniform in the world,” said Gearen. “Every Airman contributes to make this the world’s best Air Force, and I am grateful to be a part of it. You never know how or when you will impact someone’s life in a positive way.”
Annual awards recognize Airmen who distinguish themselves through exceptional effort and accomplishments throughout the year.
“Everyone who wears the uniform agreed to serve something bigger than themselves,” said Stentz. “What elevates someone from hero to superhero is the commitment to reach into yourself and accomplish something you never thought you were capable of.”
The award winners by category were:
Airman of the Year: Airman First Class Epifania Franco De Moore, 30th Wing Staff Agency
Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. David Whiting, 30th Medical Group
Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Master Sgt. Kristen Hill, 30th Wing Staff Agency
Company Grade Officer of the Year: 1st Lt. Jordan Mueller, 30th Medical Group
Field Grade Officer of the Year: Maj. Daniel Gross, 30th Medical Group
Civilian Category I: Mona Martin, 30th Medical Group
Civilian Category II: Barton Randolph, 30th Mission Support Group
Civilian Category III: Samuel Casazza, 30th Wing Staff Agency
Civilian Category IV: Thomas Smith, 30th Medical Group
Civilian Category V: Susan Dickson, 30th Mission Support Group
First Sergeant of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Adriana Rodriguez-Griffen, 30th Mission Support Group
Volunteer of the Year: Master Sgt. Jeffrey Weeks, 30th Operations Group
Base Honor Guard NCO of the Year: Staff Sgt. Jason Cochran, 30th Mission Support Group
Base Honor Guard CGO of the Year: 2nd Lt. Steven Sasiela, 30th Operations Group
Key Spouse of the Year: Mrs. Jennifer Cline, 30th Mission Support Group
Male Athlete of the Year: Maj. Ian Holt, 614th Air Operations Center
Female Athlete of the Year: Capt. Angela Silverbush, 533rd Training Squadron