Virtual ceremony recognizes AFMC’s 'best of the best'

  • Published
  • By Michele Ruff
  • Air Force Materiel Command

The Air Force Materiel Command announced its 2020 Annual Excellence Awards recipients during a virtual ceremony, March 26, 2021.

“I like to think of this annual ceremony as our Academy Awards, because you are all superstars,” said Patricia Young, AFMC Executive Director, addressing the virtual attendees. “You have been selected from a portfolio of over 87,000 Airmen. You are all winners!”

Due to the pandemic, this year’s awards ceremonies were split into separate events held on the Microsoft Commercial Virtual Remove live application. Families, coworkers and friends were invited to log in to view the unique ceremony.

“A special shout out to the families of these outstanding nominees. Thank you for your service. Our Airmen can only be successful because of your support,” said Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., AFMC Commander, who hosted the event.

Nine Airmen were chosen from 59 nominees representing the total AFMC workforce at centers, wings and the command headquarters. Nominees were selected in nine categories: Airman, Non-commissioned Officer, Senior Non-commissioned officer, First sergeant, Company Grade Officer, Field Grade Officer, Civilian Category I, Civilian Category II and Civilian Category III.

The event was appropriately themed, “Growing through Challenges, Breaking through Barriers, Powering the Warfighter … Together.” 

“Our ceremony looks a lot different than usual, but something that doesn’t change is the number of outstanding performers we have.” said Chief Master Sgt. Stanley C. Cadell, AFMC command chief. “Congratulations to all.”

The 2020 winners are:

AIRMAN OF THE YEAR: Senior Airman Valerie M. Graw is a Cyber Operations Controller assigned to the 88th Communications Squadron Cyber Operations Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Her team ensures 24/7 classified and unclassified network capabilities to five major commands with 30,000 personnel. In 2020, Graw completed a deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar and an associate degree in information systems technology. She was also a distinguished graduate of the Airman Leadership School.  

NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICER OF THE YEAR: Tech. Sgt. Mathew M. Footit is the Flight Chief for Environmental Management. He leads a team responsible for Occupational Health, Emergency Response and Environmental Management, achieving compliance with minimal mission impact for a selectively-manned test organization servicing two installations, eight geographically separate units and 70 remote sites. Footit was also the 2019 United States Lacrosse Coach of the Year, a 2020 distinguished graduate of the NCO Academy and the 2020 USAF Bioenvironmental Engineering NCO of the Year.

SENIOR NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICER OF THE YEAR: Senior Master Sgt. David N. Briden is the headquarters operations manager for the Air Force Installation Contracting Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. He oversees contingency operations, battle staff duties and functional area manager actions and provides guidance for eight major commands. He has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Libyan operation and also provided contracting support for U.S. Northern Command during hurricane relief efforts.

First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. Mary K. Cramer is the First Sergeant for the 72nd Force Support Squadron, 72nd Comptroller Squadron, 72nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, 72nd Operations Support Squadron and the 72nd Air Base Wing Staff Agencies at Tinker Air Force Base, Florida. She oversees the health, morale and welfare of more than 1,200 Airmen. Cramer has deployed three times to bases throughout Southwest Asia. She was the 2017 Commandant Award Winner and distinguished graduate at the First Sergeant Academy, the 2018 First Sergeant of the Year for the 552nd Air Control Wing and the 2019 First Sergeant of the Year for the 72nd Air Base Wing.  

COMPANY GRADE OFFICER of the Year: Capt. Joseph S. Haggberg is the Flight Commander of the Sensors and Defensive Systems Test Flight, 46th Test Squadron, 96th Cyberspace Test Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He leads a team of 50 military, civilian, and contractor personnel who perform developmental testing for a variety of aircraft and cross-service survivability and sensor technology. Haggberg holds a master’s degree in science and engineering management. He recently completed a master’s of science in flight test engineering where he flew 25 different aircraft and studied flying qualities, mission systems, and performance.   

FIELD GRADE OFFICER of the Year:  Lt. Col. Brett J. Cooper serves as the Materiel Leader, Reentry Systems in the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Systems Directorate, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. He is responsible for development, deployment, and sustainment of the reentry system for the next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile system. An engineer, Cooper has served in numerous acquisition positions in space, intelligence, and nuclear programs. While at Air Staff, he managed the Air Force’s major prototyping programs, including the adaptive turbine engine, hypersonic strike, and directed energy weapons.

CIVILIAN CATEGORY I of the Year: Aaliyah M. Patten is a Financial Analyst Specialist for the Centralized Asset Management Weapon System Sustainment division at Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Patten is responsible for managing the operations and maintenance sustainment execution budget of $504.4 million. Patten earned a bachelor of science in business finance and will complete her masters of business administration in May. She won the AFMC Headquarters Civilian Category I of the year in 2020.  

CIVILIAN CATEGORY III of the Year: Kathy M. Williams is an Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist and Master Clinician at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. As a medical-surgical expert on the Multi-Service Inpatient Flight she oversees the nurse residency program, is a key consultant for three Department of Defense working groups and chairs two medical group committees. An Air Force retiree, she sets benchmarks in clinical practice, ensuring national standards of practice are met or exceeded. She received numerous awards in 2020 at Eglin AFB including the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Clinical Nurse Specialist of the Year, American Nurse Credentialing Center Certified Medical-Surgical Nurse of the Year, 96th Medical Group Nursing Service Award for Excellence and the 96th Inpatient Squadron Civilian of the Year.

Civilian Category III of the Year: Daniel M. Sanders is the Operations Group Logistics Management Lead for a unique national test facility supporting separate geographic locations, organizations, and both U.S. and foreign national customers. He provides overall logistics planning, programming, and systems support requirements for projects and larger DOD programs, modifying and adapting support requirements to fit situations and fulfil mission objectives. Sanders enlisted in the Air Force in 1985, starting his career as a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance Specialist. Upon his retirement from active duty, Sanders began his career as a Department of the Air Force civilian at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. 

Congratulations to these outstanding Airmen. Winners in the Airman, Non-commissioned Officer, Senior Non-Commissioned Officer and First Sergeant categories will represent AFMC in the United States Air Force Outstanding Airmen of the Year and First Sergeant of the Year competitions held later this year.