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173rd FW hosts awards banquet to honor superior performers

2019 Annual Awards Banquet

For the first time in recent memory the 173rd Fighter Wing hosted its own annual awards banquet to honor Airmen who were awarded state and wing-level awards for performance last year, March 2, 2019. The changes were in response to curtailing the extensive travel and logistics planning in bringing two wings and headquarters personnel together from around the state, but despite the changes the venue was filled to capacity. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet

U.S Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Joedy Wilson, who was the lead for the banquet committee, presents the Oregon Institute of Technology catering staff with a plaque thanking them for their efforts in providing what many called an excellent meal to more than 100 Airmen and family members in a short amount of time, March 2, 2019 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The school and the 173rd FW have a strong partnership in the local community. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jeremy Gibson, 173rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, and his wife Laura arrive at the first awards banquet for the Airmen of the Year hosted solely by the 173rd Fighter Wing, March 2, 2019 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Previously the ceremony included both Oregon Air National Guard wings and the state headquarters, requiring significant travel on many attendees; these changes may have contributed to the highest wing attendance in recent memory. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet

During the 173rd Fighter Wing Annual Awards banquet in Klamath Falls, Oregon, organizers showcase a silent auction to supply some additional entertainment while raising funds for future events, March 2, 2019. Fundraisers like this were one of the ways the organizing committee was able to pay for all of the meals for those who attended, a first for one of these banquets. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Nalepa, the 114th Fighter Squadron commander, accepts the Oregon Air National Guard Outstanding Unit of the Year award on behalf of his squadron during a ceremony in Klamath Falls, Oregon, March 2, 2019. The 114th FS is the flying unit of the 173rd Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joshua Hilton, 173rd Security Forces Squadron, is honored as the Maj. Gen. Chester E. McCarty winner for General Support for the Oregon Air National Guard during a ceremony in Klamath Falls, Oregon, March 2, 2019. For his accomplishments he was presented a personalized wooden plaque inscribed with his name, wing patch, and the F-15C flown at Kingsley Field. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. John Wyman, 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron, is honored as the Maj. Gen. Chester E. McCarty winner for Operations and Safety for the Oregon Air National Guard during a ceremony in Klamath Falls, Oregon, March 2, 2019. For his accomplishments he was presented a personalized wooden plaque inscribed with his name, wing patch, and the F-15C flown at Kingsley Field. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sg. Derek Crump, 173rd Maintenance Group, is honored as the Oregon Air National Guard Wingman of the Year during an awards ceremony March 2, 2019 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Retired Brig. Gen. James Cunningham, former ORANG commander, commissioned the awards following his retirement in 2006, and personally presented the award to Crump. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet

Retired Brig. Gen. James Cunningham, the former Oregon Air National Guard commander, explains why he created the Wingman Award during and awards banquet in Klamath Falls, Oregon, March 2, 2019. Cunningham commissioned an award upon stepping down to honor an enlisted member of the Oregon Air Guard; called the Wingman award he presents it personally each year to an enlisted member. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet
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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brittany Corr, a recruiter from nearby Bend, Oregon, is honored as the top production recruiter and retention specialist for the state of Oregon, during a ceremony in Klamath Falls, Oregon, March 2, 2019. She was recognized for her outstanding performance including driving the effort to move the 173rd Fighter Wing manning to over a 100-percent. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet
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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dakota Darling, 173rd Aircrew Flight Equipment, is honored as the Oregon Air National Guard Honor Guard Member of the Year during a ceremony in Klamath Falls, Oregon, March 2, 2019. For her accomplishments she was presented a personalized wooden plaque inscribed with his name, wing patch, and the F-15C flown at Kingsley Field. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

2019 Annual Awards Banquet
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The Oregon Air National Guard Civilian of the Year award is presented to Mr. Douglas Cunningham, the air traffic manager of the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron, during a ceremony in Klamath Falls, Oregon, March 2, 2019. For his accomplishments he was presented a personalized wooden plaque inscribed with his name, wing patch, and the F-15C flown at Kingsley Field. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. --

The 173rd Fighter Wing congratulated its top performers during an awards banquet, March 2, 2019, held at the Oregon Institute of Technology campus in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

In the past the, ceremony brought together the two Oregon Air National Guard wings as well as the state headquarters, which required significant travel for many of the attendees. This year, senior leadership decided each wing would conduct their own ceremony saving time and money and alleviating the coordination challenges of bringing three organizations together in one location and at the same time.

“I’m really impressed with our attendance this year,” said Col. Jeff Smith, the 173rd Fighter Wing commander, during his opening remarks, noting that despite the changes the venue was packed. “This is a time to reflect on the Kingsley family, to take a few moments to appreciate that we are a family and that it enables us to overcome challenges and excel in spite of them.”

He went on to mention that of the 16 state-level awards, ten of them were awarded to members of the 173rd Fighter Wing, and he made a point to thank the families of the awardees as well saying that their support at home is a critical part of the mission’s success.

The first member to cross the stage for an award was Airman 1st Class Jamie Rogers, 173rd Medical Group, who was the Oregon Air National Guard Airman of the Year.  Tech. Sgt. Timothy Lombardi, 173rd Security Forces Squadron, was also named the ORANG Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, and Master Sgt. Anthony Clark, 173rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, was named the 173rd FW Senior NCO of the Year.

Capt. Adrian Mateos, 173rd Medical Group, was named 173rd FW Company Grade Officer of the Year, and Lt. Col. Adam Gaudinski, 114th Fighter Squadron, was named the ORANG Field Grade Officer of the Year.

For the Maj. Gen. Chester E. McCarty awards Senior Master Sgt. Nathaniel Morehouse, 173rd Maintenance Group, was named the Overall Outstanding Superior Performer, and Staff Sgt. David Hunter, 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron, was awarded for the Logistics/Transportation category, along with Master Sgt. Joshua Hilton, 173rd Security Forces Squadron, in the General Support category.

The Top Production Recruiter and Retainer of the Year award went to Tech. Sgt. Brittany Corr who recruits in the nearby city of Bend, Oregon.

The Wingman of the Year went to Tech. Sgt. Derek J. Crump, 173rd Maintenance Group, who received a plaque from retired Brig. Gen. James E. Cunningham, former ORANG commander, who commissioned the category when he retired from the ORANG in 2006.

The ceremony ended by naming the 114th Fighter Squadron as the ORANG Outstanding Unit of the Year. Lt. Col. Jason Nalepa, the squadron commander, accepted the award on behalf of his unit.

“In the last two years we have overcome an unbelievable number of challenges as a squadron and as a wing—it’s because we pull together as a team and as a family and that’s what will help us continue to be successful because we know more hurdles are coming our way,” said Nalepa. 

Winners at the group, squadron, and flight level were also honored, as their names were read during the ceremony. 

The wing’s mission is to provide trained F-15C pilots to both the combat Air Force and the Air National Guard, and is the sole provider for F-15C training.