Team BLAZE’s outstanding Airmen showcased at award banquet

  • Published
  • By Airman Hannah Bean
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Members of Team BLAZE celebrated the hard work of Airmen throughout the wing during the 2018 Annual Awards Banquet Feb. 8 on Columbus Air Force Base.

Forty-three members and four teams, representing 16 categories, were recognized and competed for wing-level awards.

After social hour, the nominees were formally introduced as they made their way through a saber arch.

Senior Master Sgt. Garrick Christian, 14th Operations Support Squadron chief controller of Radar Approach Control, and 1st Lt. Dennis Cook, 50th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot, were the emcees for the evening.

After dinner and the intermission, attendees were treated to a video, highlighting the nominees and the wing mission.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Pelfrey, former first sergeant of the 14th Operations Group, gave a speech with a story highlighting his past experiences and giving insight into lifestyles.

“Nominees, I want you to remember two things about tonight,” Pelfrey said. “Not one, but two. Number one is perceptions are a reality, whether they are true or not. Number two, it’s your job from this night forward to show them the lights.”

Pelfrey went on to tell the story about the word ‘expedite’ and how it changed his life and career forever. The story involved his first NCO in charge that, in Peflrey’s perception, was the meanest and most hateful person that Pelfrey had ever met in his life. Back then he was running the flight line sweeper.

One day, while Pelfrey was on the flight line sweeping, his NCOIC chimed in on the radio. So he pulled to the center of the runway and replied to the radio.

“I can tell you that little, young hand reached up for that mic and I pulled it of the dash,” Pelfrey said. “I sat in the middle of the seat and I said ‘Rickenbacker Tower, this is Sweeper 50.’ He came back and he said ‘Sweeper 50. Expedite the runway.’ Not a clue what that means. Had never, never heard that word. So I’m thinking there’s some kind of dike out there.”

While Pelfrey was searching for a “dike,” a KC-135 Stratotanker was flying above him and he didn’t see it. As he continued to search for the dike, his NCOIC appeared near the runway and Pelfrey headed off the runway.

Later, his NCOIC met up with Pelfrey, introduced him to a buck sergeant and explained how Airman Pelfrey is his best Airman, yet he has trouble communicating with the tower. So, anytime they hear “Rickenbacker tower, this is Sweeper 50”, they would show Pelfrey the lights on the runway to signal clearance onto the runway.

“He went over and he showed me a way to communicate with the tower without talking to them,” Pelfrey said. “Not in a degrading way, but in a way that made it to where the mission still happened. Remember perceptions are a reality whether they are true or not. What are the people’s perception of you? It matters. “

Pelfrey ended the speech with words of wisdom for the nominees to take with them.

“I want you in two ways to show them the lights, nominees,” Pelfrey said. “The first one is take five minutes out of your day. Put your phone down and say thank you to three people. The second way that I want you to show them the lights, never become a dump truck in life, no matter what you’re going through. A dump truck is someone who drives around and dump all their emotional baggage on others and make others’ day miserable because they’re always miserable.”

Following Pelfrey’s speech, Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raul Villarreal, Jr., 14th FTW command chief, presented the awards to the wing’s winners.

Congratulations to the 2018 14th FTW Annual Award Winners:

Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Glen Simmons, 14th Operations Group
NCO of the Year: Staff Sgt. Bryce Cook, 14th Medical Group
Senior NCO of the Year: Master Sgt. Charles Virgil, 14th OG
Company Grade Officer of the Year: Capt. Daniel Wilson, 14th MDG
Field Grade Officer of the Year: Maj. Eric Scott, 14th OG
Flight Commander of the Year: Maj. Nicholas Ervin, 14th OG
First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. David Pennington, 14th OG
Honor Guard Member of the Year: Staff Sgt. Brianna Brown, 14th MDG
Supervisory Category I Civilian of the Year: Will Gray, 14th Mission Support Group
Non-supervisory Category I Civilian of the Year: David Ross, 14th MDG
Supervisory Category II Civilian of the Year: James Rackley, 14th MSG
Non-supervisory Category II Civilian of the Year: Latoria Reid, 14th MSG
Supervisory Category III Civilian of the Year: Kevin Billingsley, 14th OG
Non-supervisory Category I Civilian of the Year: Timothy Turner, 14th MSG
Volunteer of the Year: Jeff Johnwick, 14th MSG
Innovation Team of the Year: Spark Cell, Wing Staff Agencies