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2017 Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit National Award Winners

Joseph P. Cribbins Department of the Army Civilian of the Year Award
Sponsored by The Boeing Company

Mr. Steven D. Blasey
Director, Aviation Maintenance Support Office
U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (Airborne)
Fort Campbell, Kentucky

nat blaseyMr. Steven Blasey’s vision, innovation, and leadership concerning aviation maintenance and sustainment spanned tactical to strategic levels. He championed powerful software analytics solutions to provide real-time visibility of key metrics, leveraging digital source collection, budgetary information, and maintenance transactional data to effectively mitigate risk, reduce costs, and help define flying hour ownership costs. His insight and efforts were noted by senior officials from TRADOC, AMCOM, and USAACE as the path forward for Army Aviation. The results of his efforts are evidenced in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)’s operational successes managing 212 aircraft, both rotary wing and UAS platforms, executing over 50,000 flying hours budgeted at $320 million, while averaging 7 simultaneous deployments (OCONUS/CONUS), peaking at 10, and totaling 42. Despite the vast logistical footprint, and obvious demands placed on maintenance and supplies, the unit averaged an 81% operational readiness rate, crested at 95%, and realized cost avoidances exceeding $96 million. His Maintenance Technologies (MT) team led the fielding of the next generation Aircraft Notebook to the C27J fixed wing fleet and working toward first unit equipped for rotary wing. Mr. Blasey’s initiatives and efforts identify him as the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America Joseph P. Cribbins Department of the Army Civilian of the Year.


James H. McClellan Aviation Safety Award
Sponsored by GE Aviation

CW4 Shannon T. Wooten
1st Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division Task Force Gunfighters
Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan

nat wootenChief Warrant Officer Four Shannon Wooten has made outstanding contributions to Army Aviation Safety while serving as the Aviation Safety Officer assigned to Task Force Gunfighters. The Task Force has not had a single rotary wing Class A or B accident during combat operations in Afghanistan while flying more than 4,600 hours in theater. He also integrated local and higher level safety offices at brigade and United States Forces-Afghanistan ensuring all aspects of risk mitigation and policy were implemented in the Task Force area of operations. He worked tirelessly to continuously improve the safety practices of the Task Force, support the companies, and set the standard for programs and practices that have been adopted by Task Force Gunfighter’s higher headquarters. His ability to bring safety awareness down to the individual Soldier is unparalleled and has resulted in Soldiers taking ownership of their own safety in their day to day activities. His dedication to individual and unit safety is the highest ever seen by the command. CW4 Wooten’s dedicated, outstanding contributions to Aviation Safety clearly identify him as the winner of the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America James H. McClellan Aviation Safety Award.


Army Aviation Soldier of the Year
Sponsored by Bell Helicopter Textron

SPC Cheylese R. Denham-Lucero
Company C, 3rd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division
Fort Riley, Kansas

nat denham luceroSpecialist Cheylese R. Denham-Lucero served as a vital teammate with Charlie Company, 3-1 Assault Helicopter Battalion, Task Force Fighting Eagles, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OEF) and Operation Resolute Support (ORS). She flew in excess of 200 hours on over 40 combat missions while operating in some of the harshest conditions in Army Aviation. These missions allowed key United States and Coalition leaders to engage with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and government officials. Additionally, she performed outstandingly in her additional duties as the company Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE) representative and Test Measurement & Diagnostic Equipment (TMDE) coordinator; positions previously held by a Chief Warrant Officer Two. She is known as the go-to maintainer in the company and was crucial to the unit’s ability to maintain an 89 percent operational readiness rate for the deployment. She embodies the “total Soldier” and scored a 332 on the Army Physical Fitness Test extended scale; she easily won both battalion and brigade Soldier of the Quarter boards in December, 2016. Specialist Denham-Lucero is most deserving of recognition as the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America Soldier of the Year.


Henry Q. Dunn Crew Chief of the Year
Sponsored by Robertson Fuel Systems

SGT Brent S. Uchiyama
Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division
Fort Riley, Kansas

nat uchiyamaSergeant Uchiyama excelled during his deployment to Camp Marmal and Operating Base Dahlke in support of OPERATION FREEDOM’S SENTINAL and OPERATION RESOLUTE SUPPORT as a member of Company A, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Gunfighters. He served with distinction as crew chief, shift supervisor, company master driver and retention NCO. Prior to deployment, he managed maintenance for the company’s crew chiefs and attack helicopters. He was directly responsible for the rapid completion of six major maintenance inspections and the replacement of five major end item components in support of the transfer of nine AH-64D aircraft. As a deployed crew chief, he planned, resourced, and executed 11 scheduled major maintenance inspections. As a company master driver, he was directly responsible for timely movement of over 750 tons of Class I, III, VII and IX supplies for nearly 150 U.S. and Multinational Soldiers and civilians. His mentorship resulted in the laudable cross training of six back-shops Soldiers to perform dual roles as AH-64D crew chiefs. SGT Uchiyama’s dedication to the development of his Soldiers and demonstrated mission-first attitude have earned him recognition as the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America Henry Q. Dunn Crew Chief of the Year.


Rodney J.T. Yano Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
Sponsored by Lockheed Martin Corporation

SSG Dustin P. Hardin
3rd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division
Fort Riley, Kansas

nat hardinStaff Sergeant Dustin P. Hardin served as a platoon sergeant of a 16 AH-64D Apache flight company during OPERATION FREEDOM’S SENTINEL, based in Kandahar Afghanistan. With a small number of maintainers due to the force cap limitations, he was able to manage limited resources and maintain 16 aircraft as the sole platoon sergeant. He managed maintenance in austere expeditionary locations in addition to his home base at Kandahar Airfield. As a member of an assault battalion task force, he personally trained twenty inexperienced Apache maintainers and armament technicians. His efforts resulted in unit aircraft flying more hours than any AH-64D company in theater. Due to his duty performance, Charlie Company, Task Force Nightmare excelled in the main role of a variety of campaign critical mission sets in support of TAACs South and West, AAC-S/W. His presence and leadership directly enabled Task Force Nightmare to contribute to partnered Afghan Special Operations Forces and U.S. Operational Detachment Alpha missions that resulted in the removal of multiple high level combatants from the battlefield. SSG Hardin’s actions are clearly worthy of emulation and identify him as the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America Rodney J.T. Yano Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.


Michael J. Novosel Army Aviator of the Year
Sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company

CW3(P) Andrew J. Sorenson
Company B, 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

nat sorensonChief Warrant Officer 3 (Promotable) Andrew Sorenson exemplifies a true leader within Army Aviation. As a 160th SOAR (A) Flight Lead he contributed to the Combined SOF aviation enterprise throughout the year as he planned, developed, briefed and executed innovative and complex training events at the multi-echelon level in locations ranging from South Korea to the United Kingdom. He improved joint SOF and ARSOA tactics through an additional complex training event while embarked on the USS Nimitz. As a standardization instructor pilot, he increased combat power by conducting multiple Fully Mission Qualified Pilot-in-Command flight evaluations along with Regiment-level assessments and Basic Mission Qualified aviator flight evaluations. In all, his efforts enabled the development of over 100 ARSOA personnel, over 30 foreign aviators, and over 300 Special Operations ground forces. He led multiple expeditionary operations over a combat deployment, providing successful integration of over 20 rotary wing and fixed wing platforms across the battlespace in support of the theater ground force commander. Recognized by his leaders, peers, and subordinates as a coach and mentor, CW3(P) Sorenson’s achievements make him the clear choice for recognition as the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America Michael J. Novosel Aviator of the Year.


Robert M. Leich Award
Sponsored by Northrop Grumman Corporation

1LT Jamie K. Beaver
Company B, 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment Task Force Nightmare
Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan

nat beaver1LT Jamie Beaver valorously distinguished himself in aerial flight as a platoon leader and CH-47F pilot for Bravo Company, 5-159th General Support Aviation Battalion while deployed in support of OPERATION FREEDOM’S SENTINEL (OFS), assigned to Task Force Nightmare. On 18 June 2016, in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, he was a pilot on a flight of two CH-47F aircraft with a mission to insert Afghan commandos into a known hostile area. In addition to the commandos on the aircraft, there were two U.S. Army Infantrymen on board acting as Guardian Angels. Both aircraft landed at the objective and inserted the commandos, while constantly receiving heavy surface to air fire from small arms and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) from multiple directions. While on the ground, the enemy continued to engage the aircraft. After departing the objective, 1LT Beaver’s crew noticed that one of the Guardian Angels had momentarily stepped off the aircraft and did not get back on. Despite the extreme hostile threat to the aircraft and crews, he immediately requested to return to the landing zone where, again under extreme enemy fire, they successfully recovered the U.S. Soldier. 1LT Beaver’s selfless service and courage under fire warrant his recognition with the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America Robert M. Leich Award.


AAAA Army Reserve Aviation Unit of the Year
Sponsored by Honeywell

Commander: LTC Stephen W. Ladd(l), Senior NCO: CSM Mark E. Dehart (r)
5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment
Fort Eustis, Virginia

nat reserveAs the largest general support aviation battalion in the U.S. Army, the workload, operational tempo, and mission throughput of the “Dragon Masters” of the 5-159th GSAB is an impressive tale of combat operations, special operations mission training support, and support to homeland operations. Throughout 2016, the Dragon Masters conducted 7,034 flight hours, supported 240 external mission requests, recovered a unit from Kosovo, deployed two units to Afghanistan, mobilized yet another in preparation for deployment, dropped two-million pounds of water fighting fires state-side, in addition to many other operations. The Dragon Masters are conducting deliberate operations under OPERATION FREEDOM’S SENTINEL (OFS) and train-assist-advise operations under OPERATION RESOLUTE SUPPORT (ORS). Missions include air assault operations, cordon and search, and recovery of high-value targets while working in conjunction with international NATO partners. In addition to OCONUS operations, the Dragon Masters have also supported CONUS joint and inter-agency training events such as Emerald Warrior, Trident Warrior, Prominent Hunt, and WINGS 2016. The performance of the Dragon Masters in 2016 will serve as an example and challenge for future generations to emulate and earns them recognition as the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America U.S. Army Reserve Aviation Unit of the Year.


AAAA John J. Stanko Army National Guard Aviation Unit of the Year
Sponsored by Honeywell

Company B, 2nd Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment
Iowa Army National Guard
Davenport, Iowa
Commander: CPT Christopher D. Gericke (l), Senior NCO: SFC Layne Marti (r)

nat stankoSoldiers of Bravo Company, 2-211th Aviation Regiment executed a variety of CH-47F mission sets including cargo movements, passenger movements, helicopter assault force and deliberate operations in low illumination, deteriorated weather conditions, mountainous terrain environments and in all modes of flight; day, night, and night vision goggles, across Afghanistan. The unit deployed a total of 40 combat aircrew members, 20 from the Minnesota Army National Guard and 20 from the Iowa Army National Guard. Unit Soldiers were spread across multiple austere locations in Afghanistan. During the course of their deployment, unit crews flew over 3,000 aircraft hours, executed more than 300 combat missions across Afghanistan and performed thousands of scheduled and unscheduled aircraft maintenance hours. They moved in excess of 1,000,000 lbs. of cargo, executed over 50 high risk HAF missions and flew more than 100 deliberate operations. Unit Soldiers were awarded a total of three Bronze Star Medals, 69 Air Medals, eight Combat Action Badges, three Meritorious Service Medals, five Army Commendation Medals and 14 Army Achievement Medals. The accomplishments of the Soldiers of Bravo Company identify them as the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America John J. Stanko Army National Guard Aviation Unit of the Year.


AAAA Active Army Aviation Unit of the Year
Sponsored by L3 Technologiesems

2nd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment Task Force Fighting Eagles Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan
Commander: LTC Jacob J. Dlugosz (l), Senior NCO: CSM Dwight N. Evans (r)

nat active unitTF Fighting Eagles was instrumental during sustained combat operations while executing air ground operations at home station and during Operations Resolute Support (ORS) and Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS). The unit, which is comprised of 351 Soldiers from both the active component and National Guard organized into a headquarters company, six helicopter companies, an aviation unit maintenance detachment, an infantry platoon, and an air traffic services detachment, deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan in August 2016. Task Force crews flew more than 10,700 hours, the highest in the combat aviation brigade, executed over 3,950 air movements, transporting more than 16,000 personnel and half a million pounds of cargo, and evacuated 179 patients on 86 life-saving MEDEVAC missions in support of ORS. The TF directly supported OFS by executing 44 air assaults, 19 ground assault force raids, and 10 Special Mission Wing helicopter assault force raids with partnered Special Forces Teams, Afghan Commandos, and Attack Weapons Teams targeting top level Taliban leaders and eliminating over 70 enemy combatants. The Soldiers of TF Fighting Eagles provided exceptional support to the combatant commander and ground forces in the harshest environment in the world earning recognition as the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America Active Aviation Unit of the Year.


AAAA Outstanding Aviation Unit of the Year
Sponsored by The Boeing Company

Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division Task Force Victory
Fort Riley, Kansas
Commander: COL John M. Cyrulik (l), CCWO: CW5 Sam R. Baker (m), Senior NCO: Roque R. Quichocho (r0

nat outstandingOver the past year, Task Force (TF) Victory, Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB), 1st Infantry Division (1ID), proved to be the cornerstone of air-ground operations for joint, multi-COMPO, and multi-national forces fighting our Nation’s wars, maintaining alliances, building partnerships, and conducting multilateral special operations with absolute precision. During 2016, the CAB executed the National Defense CBRN Readiness Force (DCRF) mission, trained and executed Warfighter Exercise (WFX) 16-4, prepared for and deployed to both Korea and Afghanistan in support of Operations Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support (OFS/ORS) while simultaneously preparing for and supported 1ID for a Decisive Action (DA) operating environment. The CAB also learned, anticipated, and evolved to lead Army Aviation through the Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI) in order to maintain pace in the modernization of platforms and force structure. Ultimately, through consummate teamwork, TF Victory provided U.S. and coalition forces with unmatched aviation support. The CAB succeeded in building the Army’s premier modern aviation force and developed an Army expeditionary operating concept for split-based operations to employ and sustain Unified Land Operations for two separate geographic combatant commands. These accomplishments clearly identify it as the 2016 Army Aviation Association of America Outstanding Aviation Unit of the Year.


Top Super Chapter of the Year
Sponsored by AAAA National

Air Assault Chapter
Fort Campbell, Kentucky
Chapter President: COL (Ret.) Henry C. “Hawk” Ruth

nat Air AssaultFor the second year in a row, the Air Assault Chapter has taken top honors in the Super Chapter category. From a modest continued growth in membership, to supporting battalion and brigade level functions, to teaming with Operation House of Heroes in providing funds and people in support of a veteran’s home renovation project they did it all. They supported the National Summit and their annual golf tournament helped sponsor eight scholarships to benefit their Soldiers and Families. They also sponsored three Soldiers and spouses to the 2016 AAAA Annual Summit in Nashville and awarded 61 Orders of Saint Michaels. And they signed up over 107 deploying Soldiers for the AAAA dues waiver program. Well done to President COL (Ret.) Hawk Ruth and his leadership team.


Top Master Chapter of the Year
Sponsored by AAAA National

North Texas Chapter
Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
Chapter President: COL (Ret.) Michael J. Miller

nat n texasThe North Texas Chapter is mostly composed of Army Aviation-related industry members in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex with retirees, Active, Guard and Reserve Soldiers rounding out the membership. Taking care of Soldiers is their priority as evidenced by their numerous membership events and meetings during the year, recognizing 6 Soldiers and DACs with the Order of St. Michael, and sponsoring a Soldier and Spouse to the AAAA Annual Summit in 2016. They had a modest increase of 8 percent in membership and 14 chapter members received scholarships. Congratulations to Chapter President, COL (Ret.) Mike Miller, and his chapter officers for taking care of their members.


Top Senior Chapter of the Year
Sponsored by AAAA National

Tarheel Chapter
Raleigh, North Carolina
Chapter President: CW2 John S. Feutz

nat tarheelThe Army National Guard centric Tarheel Chapter did a lot for Soldiers and families in 2016 to include increasing their membership over 12% to 150 members, conducting meetings, social events, an annual golf tournament, lunches and lectures on topics of interest to aviation enthusiasts. They recognized excellence in Aviation with awards of the Order of St. Michael, ensured their deployed Soldiers were included in the cost-free membership program, and sent a Soldier and Spouse to the AAAA Annual Summit. Chapter members received 11 scholarships and chapter officers participated in the chapter workshop at the Summit. A hearty “well done” to President CW2 John Feutz and his team.


Top AAAA Chapter of the Year
Sponsored by AAAA National

Bluegrass Chapter
Frankfort, Kentucky
Chapter President: COL Brian K. Abney

nat bluegrassThe Bluegrass Chapter did much to strengthen its support of Army Aviation Soldiers and Families during 2016, starting with a growth of over 24% in their membership numbers to 61. They held meetings, began funding a matching fund scholarship and presented 2 $1,000 scholarships to chapter members. They sponsored various events in support of aviation units in their area, to include ensuring deployed Soldiers received the cost-free membership and recognition with the Order of Saint Michael. They also took the time to identify their Soldiers of the Month and made sure they lived the AAAA Mission Statement, “Supporting the U.S. Army Aviation Soldier and Family.” Congratulations to President COL Brian Abney and the chapter officers. Make 2017 even bigger and better!

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