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.