MINOT AIR FORCE BASE Ensuring the airfield and runway remain in top-notch condition for landings and take-offs is among one of the most essential components to ensuring the B-52H Stratofortresses success in its flying mission.
The 5th Operations Support Squadron airfield management operations crew here has continually proven their worth in ensuring airfield readiness. The flight has even been recognized by Air Force Global Strike Command in both individual and group awards for their great efforts in leadership that they've put forth.
"This year we were awarded the Air Operations Complex of the Year award," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Stillwagon, 5th Operations Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of airfield management operations. "We earned this award in conjunction with personnel from the air traffic controller tower."
Submitted Photo • Staff Sgt. Joshua Stillwagon, left, noncommissioned officer in charge of airfield management operations with the 5th Operations Support Squadron, instructs Senior Airman Rondarrius McDonald, squadron airfield operator, on the use of a range finder at Minot Air Force Base May 17, shown in this photo by Senior Airman Jesse Lopez. Tools like these are used by airfield management personnel to measure distances among objects and equipment in the flightline.
Specifically, the award highlighted the team members' hard work in coordinating construction at the flightline last year which included re-pavement and airfield extensions among other tasks.
The award also recognized the revamping of the shop's training program and general overall management. Stillwagon himself earned Global Strike Command airfield management noncommissioned officer of the year for his highly qualified supervisorial skills.
"I was actually a little surprised to find out I myself won an award," said Stillwagon. "I was told I was competing at an Air Force-level at the same time I found out I was notified that AFGSC had chosen me as top NCO in the command."
Additional recipients included Senior Airman Kyle Pantermoller, 5th Operations Support Squadron airfield operator, who earned the title of Global Strike Command's airfield management Airman of the year and Tech. Sgt. Gerald Null, 5th Operations Support Squadron control tower chief controller, who was awarded the Global Strike Command training achievement award.
"This prestigious award definitely shows that our hard work really pays off," said Pantermoller. "Everyone here is proud that we have been recognized for our diligent work."
Stillwagon explained his shop has always strived for excellence in what they do and he's taught his airmen necessary work skills to the best of his ability, just as his predecessors had taught him. He added that as time has progressed he has come to enjoy his job more and more.
"For the first few years in this career field I was doing a lot of paperwork related to the job," said Stillwagon. "As time went on, I began working out on the flightline and began to really enjoy this job."
Whether it is checking for any pavement or lights that needs fixing or making sure the runway conditions are clear, he said he always puts his best effort into his work.
"Going out and ensuring airfield safety is the most favorite part of the job," said Stillwagon. "Whenever I correct any irregularities out in the airfield, I realize how important my piece in the puzzle is to the overall mission."
Similarly, Pantemoller said he too enjoyed going out on the airfield because it gave him a chance to work with people from various career fields on a daily basis.
"We're always communicating with maintenance and civil engineer personnel, or any agencies that come in contact with the airfield in any way," said Pantermoller.
Stillwagon explained throughout his career field, he has always had the privilege of working with a lot of great airfield managers who were dedicated supervisors and taught him the best there is to know about the job.
"The airfield managers I've worked with in the past were the ones who really opened my eyes in understanding how important this job is in the whole scheme of things." said Stillwagon.