Minnesota Air National Guard Maj. Katie Lunning, a member of the 133rd Airlift Wing, became the first Air Guard flight nurse to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal on Jan 7. She received it for her actions as a Critical Care Air Transport Team nurse with the 379th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron supporting Operation Allies Refuge in August For two weeks, Lunning flew up to six missions a day to evacuate casualties from Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul. Up to 36 times per day, she would trek three blocks pushing a stretcher through Taliban-controlled streets.
Lt. Col. Raymundo Vann Jr., and his daughter Capt. Gabriella Graham, stepped into the launch control capsule at Echo-01 missile alert facility at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., on Jan. 6 and assumed a 24-hour alert together, before Graham attends the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Following SOS, she will begin maternity leave. “There has never been any parent-child alert ever … so I’m glad we got to be the first to do it and spread the word that ICBMs is family business,” Vann said. “It is amazing to know that two generations—three when we count her baby—were proudly providing nuclear deterrence.”
Staff Sgt. Keith Lee, an aircraft metals technology craftsman with the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 108th Wing, used his skills to install a Global Aircrew Strategic Network Terminal in its command post in January, saving the wing thousands of dollars. Lee developed his construction talents during high school
designing his own three-axis computerized numerical control milling machine, which ultimately led him to join the Air National Guard. He quickly learned the art of tungsten inert gas welding, gained certification in four different alloys, and established himself as a master craftsman.
Air Force Reserve Staff Sgt. Jayaira Ghrim-Harvey, a member of Ohio’s Youngstown Air Reserve
Station’s 910th Force Support Squadron and deployed to Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations at Dover Air Force Base, Del., will have her poetry published in the spring of 2023. She was inspired by her peers and leadership at AFMAO to submit her work to a project called “The Women We Watched,” written by Air Force women about their mentors and inspirations. “I chose to write about my mom,” Ghrim-Harvey said, “because she’s been one of my biggest inspirations.”
Senior Airman Austin Andrews, a loadmaster with the 4th Airlift Squadron at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., received the Staff Sgt. Henry E. “Red” Erwin Outstanding Enlisted Aircrew Member of the Year Award for 2022. The award is given for outstanding leadership and sustained self-improvements in support of enlisted aircrew operations. “I returned from a deployment, and the day my rest and recuperation leave was up, I got back out [to Afghanistan],” Andrews said. “We were the last jet on the ramp to leave … and it was a ghost town on the flight line. Everyone … left to help during Operation Allies Refuge.”
When Ohio Air National Guard Tech Sgt. Wendy Kuhn, a public affairs specialist with the 121st Air Refueling Wing, first walked into a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class seven years ago, she didn’t know what to expect. But in 2022, she became the Master Four Purple Belt World Champion for the second year in a row at the World Master International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Kuhn’s first tournament was just three months after she started practicing. “I love them, because every time I prepare for one, I increase my skills,” she said.
Space Force Master Sgt. Josef Margetiak, a Space Delta 5 ISR Division operations superintendent at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., began the new year as recipient of the William O. Studeman Award. A 16-year Air Force member before transitioning to the Space Force two years ago, Margetiak received the award for his contributions overseeing ISRD’s Electronic Warfare team and the Analysis, Correlation, and Fusion team. “We uncovered new adversary electronic warfare sites, identified a new enemy offensive capability, and helped affect change in Remote Piloted Aircraft [TTPs],” he said.
Missouri Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Zachariah received the Outstanding Guardsman
(Enlisted) in Contracting Award in the 2022 Air Force Contracting Awards recognition program. As a
contracting superintendent assigned to the 139th Mission Support Group, Zachariah led a contracting team that managed 65 contract actions valued at more than $164 million while deployed in support
of Operation Inherent Resolve. This included contracts that contributed to the disruption of human-trafficking efforts in U.S. Central Command’s AOR.
Master Sgt. Seth Maheux, 104th Armament Flight NCOIC at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., will receive the 2022 Air National Guard Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award for maintenance excellence. It is presented to maintainers who have demonstrated superior service, performance, job knowledge, and results in aircraft, munitions, missile, and communications-electronics maintenance. “Honestly, I have never thought of myself in that manner so it’s also a bit of a surprise to receive an award of this magnitude,” Maheux said. The award is one of the most prestigious awards in all of the Air Force.
Former longtime AFRL Senior Scientist Nicholas “Nick” J. Pagano was inducted into the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame at the Dayton Engineers Club in Ohio in November. Honored for achievements significantly enhancing quality of life for humanity, Pagano pioneered numerous contributions for more than 40 years. His discovery of the “stacking sequence phenomenon” led to new practices to reduce the potential for delamination, or failure between composite layers, ultimately leading to the creation of material that is stronger and lighter than the aluminum traditionally used for aircraft production.