Order of the Nucleus recipients honored by AFNWC

  • Published
  • By Ryan Stark
  • Nucleus writer
The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center awarded its annual Order of the Nucleus Awards Jan. 27 at a ceremony at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.

The well-attended ceremony paid homage to not only the Order of the Nucleus recipients, but the Air Force's nuclear enterprise in general.

In her remarks at the ceremony, AFNWC Commander Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan echoed that sentiment, honoring those who support the center and its mission.

"Without such dedication, our nation would not be safe," she said. "Many think (nuclear) deterrence is something political or not really real. I will tell you that deterrence is something that happens every day."

Finan added that the American nuclear weapons program requires military personnel, an industrial base and people in many areas of work to support it.

"It takes people who can create those deterrence systems," she said, "and it takes community support."

This year's Order of the Nucleus honorees include:

- Bret Knapp, former interim director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and director of weapons programs at Los Alamos National Laboratories. Knapp received the award posthumously. His son accepted the award;

- Alex Romero, Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, and member of the Kirtland Partnership Committee, Team Kirtland Wingman honoree and past honorary commander of the AFNWC;

- Jim Kapsales, associate program leader for the Office of the Principal Associate Director of Weapons and Complex Integration at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories;

- Nuclear design physicist Hank O'Brien, the W-78 life extension program manager at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories;

- Harrold Rarrick, an expert in weapons, weapons effects and nuclear testing from Sandia National Laboratories;

- Retired Air Force officer John St. Ledger, now working for Los Alamos National Laboratories, who has served as a research and development engineer and an expert in nuclear effects;

- Bruce Walker, Sandia National Laboratories vice president of weapons engineering and product realization;

- Jim Degnan, an expert in weapons effects and high-energy density plasma, who has directed testing at the Air Force Research Laboratories' Shiva Star facility;

- Retired Air Force missileer Ernie Herrera, who worked in fields including intercontinental ballistic missiles and deep-space surveillance, among others;

- Current AFNWC Intelligence Division Chief Steven Myers, who has served the nuclear enterprise for around 40 years;

- Darrell Palmer, retired Air Force nuclear research officer who was the lead project officer for the construction of the AFNWC headquarters building at Kirtland;

- Air Force Lt. Gen. Andrew Busch, former Air Force Materiel Command and current director of the Defense Logistics Agency;

- Jerry McDowell of Sandia National Laboratories;

- Rob McKay, the Department of Energy's program manager for the B61-12 life extension program;

- Former Nuclear Weapons Related Materiel Program Manager Diana Moreno of the AFNWC;

- Master Sgt. Morgan Ard, superintendent for weapons storage and security system maintenance at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and

- A group recognition of the Product Support Team, ICBM Systems Directorate at the AFNWC.

Finan gave the recipients in attendance a commemorative coin and a certificate as part of their induction.