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Andersen recognizes outstanding Airmen of 2006

  • Published
  • By Capt. Joel Stark
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
The 36th Wing announced its 2006 Airmen and Civilians of the Year Saturday night. 

Ceremony attendees enjoyed a performance by the Air Force Band of the Pacific-Asia's rock and show band, Final Approach, as well as humorous emcees and a running slideshow of candid nominee photos.

Hosting his first 36th Wing awards ceremony, the commander, Brig. Gen. Douglas Owens, acknowledged the efforts of organizers, the generosity of local sponsors and the performance of the award winners. 

"As the United States Air Force, we represent the strongest, the best equipped, the best trained, the best led military in the entire world. Our best of the best represent integrity, service, excellence and selflessness," General Owens said in his comments. "I humbly stand here as your wing commander because I am so proud of each and every one of you." 

The general acknowledged examples of that selflessness among the attendees, which included two Purple Heart recipients and a two-time Silver Star recipient.
General Owens was visibly moved when he indicated the powerful standard set by the POW/MIA table beside the stage honoring military members. 

"We all wake up every morning, and we put on this uniform, and we go about our business with integrity," he said. "We strive to do the very best we can because we represent the greatest country in the world. With that power comes responsibility, and with that responsibility comes expectation of performance. That is what all [winners and nominees] represent." 

The 2006 Andersen Outstanding Airmen and Civilians of the Year are: 

Senior Airman Derrick Uzzle, 36th Medical Support Squadron, is the Airman of the Year. Among his accomplishments, Airman Uzzle was the 2006 PACAF Medical Service Resource Management Airman of the Year. His outstanding initiative led to the overhaul of the entire Medical Affirmative Claims program where he updated more than 80 records, closing 75 delinquent accounts and recouping $2,000 dollars in just 90 days. 

Master Sgt. Ruben Vazquez, 36th Medical Operations Squadron, is the NCO of the Year. Sergeant Vazquez's achievements include selection as the Air Force's 2006 Olson-Wegner Outstanding Aerospace Medicine NCO award winner; he was also the sole medic on 54 Army reconnaissance combat patrols in Iraq, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. 

The Senior NCO of the Year is Master Sgt. William Schell, 36th Communications Squadron. In addition to many on-duty accomplishments, he completed 12 credits toward a Bachelor's degree and raised $1,000 for the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force scholarship program. 

The First Sergeant of the Year is Senior Master Sgt. Eric Light of the 36th Maintenance Group. Sergeant Light's 2006 achievements include flawlessly integrating four separate AEF rotations into the base operations, including the processing, briefing and lodging of 530 maintainers. He also made time to earn his second Community College of the Air Force degree. 

Capt. Vincent Gemmiti, 36th Mobility Response Squadron, is the Company Grade Officer of the Year. Captain Gemmiti prevented a fatal accident to an aerial porter during a C-17 vehicle download, saving an Airman's life. Among his accomplishments he served as mission commander for a 21-person team supporting the President's trip to Vietnam, enabling 32 supporting sorties. 

The 36th Wing Civilian of the Year Category I is Jeremy Kelley, 36th Services Squadron. Mr. Kelley's 2006 achievements include winning the Gen. Eugene L. Eubank Award, efficiently managing $300,000 worth of lodging assets, and playing a pivotal role in refurbishing 60 substandard rooms in record time. 

Tammy Fontana, 36th Medical Support Squadron, is the Civilian of the Year Category II. Mrs. Fontana was the 2006 PACAF Medical Resource Management Civilian of the Year. Her other accomplishments include revitalizing revenue generating programs that increased collections 340 percent over the prior fiscal year, returning $17,000 to the 36th Medical Group; and spearheading the group's Operation Cold Teddy Bear, sending 400 pounds of winter clothing to underprivileged Iraqi children. 

The Civilian Category III winner iss Arthur Hameister, Jr., 36th Communications Squadron. Mr. Hameister led 56 members and managed the $20 million base network, providing 24/7 network computer support for 4,000 wing and 11,000 additional TDY Airmen. In addition to many on-duty achievements, he also attended in-residence squadron officer school and chaperoned six pro baseball players to 12 schools and a juvenile detention center. 

Airman 1st Class Brandon Wigginton, 36th Services Squadron, is the wing's 2006 Honor Guardsman of the Year. Among Airman Wigginton's 2006 accomplishments were an average of eight Honor Guard details a month. He also gave 240 hours toward focused drill and practice, and in spite of being junior in grade to many on the team, was promoted to trainer and flight leader.

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