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14th AF paralegal named best in the Air Force

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Brig. Gen. Linda S. Marchione, mobilization assistant to the commander of 14th Air Force, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., congratulates Staff Sgt. Melissa Rush, non commissioned officer in charge of military justice at the 14th AF Staff Judge Advocate office, upon Rush’s acceptance of the Steve Swigonski Award Sept. 16, 2013. The award recognizes Rush as the Air Force’s most outstanding young paralegal of the year. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Maj. Larry van der Oord)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Brig. Gen. Linda S. Marchione, mobilization assistant to the commander of 14th Air Force, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., congratulates Staff Sgt. Melissa Rush, non commissioned officer in charge of military justice at the 14th AF Staff Judge Advocate office, upon Rush’s acceptance of the Steve Swigonski Award Sept. 16, 2013. The award recognizes Rush as the Air Force’s most outstanding young paralegal of the year. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Maj. Larry van der Oord)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff Sgt. Melissa Rush, non commissioned officer in charge of military justice in the 14th Air Force Staff Judge Advocate office at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was recently selected as the Steve Swigonski Award winner for 2012.

Brig. Gen. Linda S. Marchione, mobilization assistant to the commander of 14th AF, presented Rush with the award Sept. 16, 2013, recognizing her as the Air Force's most outstanding young paralegal.

The annual winner of the Air Force level award is an active duty paralegal in the grade of technical sergeant or below selected for demonstrating superior initiative, technical skill, leadership, paralegal teaming and devotion to duty.

"It's a great honor for us to be here today to recognize this exceptional achievement," said Marchione. "On behalf of Lt. Gen Helms and the rest of the 14th Air Force team, I want to congratulate you and let you know that we are so proud of you."

Marchione noted a list of impressive accomplishments from Rush's nomination package for the award.

Rush processed 31 discharges, the most in Air Force Space Command, with the fastest processing times across the command. She also managed a command-high, five general courts-martial, securing discharges and jail time for multiple offenders. Rush was a two-time NCO of the quarter, as well as the 30th Space Wing Staff NCO of the year in 2012.

"Being a case paralegal for courts-martial has given me a unique opportunity to see our justice system at work," said Rush. "I have seen our justice system punish those who commit crimes against others and our Air Force. I have also seen the justice system acquit those who are innocent. This firsthand experience has been enlightening and rewarding."

During the year-long award period, Rush also managed to maintain a 4.0 grade point average while earning two Community College of the Air Force degrees.

"I could not have done this by myself," said Rush. "I had a great team of supporters, starting with my husband who was there helping with our children when I had to work late nights. My leadership was also the reason why I received this award. They all believed in my ability and recognized me in this public forum and for that I am very thankful."

The prestigious Steve Swigonski Award ranks Rush, a Zanesville, Ohio native, number one of approximately 670 junior paralegals across the Air Force.