News: 100th CES Senior NCO named as one of U.S. Air Force's 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year
MILDENHALL, England — It takes a lot to be considered an outstanding Airman in today's U.S. Air Force. It takes even more to be considered one of the dozen elite enlisted members, hand-picked by Air Force leadership.
RAF Mildenhall has had more than its share of superior airmen over the years, and continues to show off its best people.
Senior Master Sgt. Emilio Hernandez, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron Operations flight superintendent, was recently honored as one of the U.S. Air Force's 12 Outstanding airmen of the Year for 2012.
In addition to being awarded the Outstanding Airman ribbon with the bronze star device, and being able to wear the Outstanding Airman badge for one year, Hernandez will also have the opportunity to serve on the Air Force Enlisted Council for one year, representing Team Mildenhall and helping shape the future of the Air Force, according to Col. Christopher Kulas, 100th Air Refueling Wing commander.
According to the Air Force Association website, this award recognizes 12 outstanding enlisted members for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements. The program was initiated at the Air Force Association's 10th annual national conference, held in New Orleans in 1956. The selection board consists of Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, selected major-command command chiefs and a general officer. The selections are then reviewed by the Air Force Chief of Staff.
"Being selected to represent our enlisted force is a great honor," said Hernandez. "At the same time, it's a big responsibility. I feel a bit nervous, but proud to be able to represent Team Mildenhall. This might be an individual award, but I don't see it that way - I see it in the same way I look at our KC-135 (Stratotankers) taking off. I had a lot of help, from my unit all the way up to base leadership. Everyone had a role in this award."
Hernandez has distinguished himself throughout his career.
Born in Cuba but raised in Florida, Hernandez enlisted in the Air Force in 1992, and attended the electrical power production training course at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He completed airmen Leadership School in 1995, where he received the Distinguished Graduate award. The now-superintendent earned a Joint Service Commendation medal in 1999, after completing a tour to Izmir Air Station, Turkey, where he served with NATO forces. Additionally, while stationed at Misawa Air Base, Japan, his unit earned the Maj. Gen. Robert H. Curtin Award, after he led a deployed team to Tawi Tawi, Phillipines, in support of U.S. humanitarian efforts.
His numerous other achievements include earning the Bronze Star Medal, after deploying to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, and serving as the 777th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron operations flight chief in 2011. During this time, he led 52 personnel and 53 projects, supporting 163 forward-operating bases and 83,000 International Security Assistance Force personnel.
Hernandez's drive towards military service was sparked by a friend of his father's - a Vietnam veteran named Moe.
"As a young teenager, I would listen to his stories of travels and great relationships," said the superintendent. "I always admired how proud he was of his service, but the one thing he would always tell me was, 'Emilio, if you are going to join, join the Air Force, not the Army.'
"The Air Force served two purposes for me--one, it was an opportunity to give back to my nation. From a family that migrated from Cuba, my father always made sure we understood how lucky we were to live in the greatest nation in the world. I always felt that I owed, and still do, so much to America for the freedoms my family and I enjoyed. Secondly, it was a chance to escape the inner city life and live the experiences Moe talked about."
He said after joining the Air Force, he found the pride and camaraderie to be second to none, but what made the biggest impact on his view of the Air Force was the way it embraced diversity.
"We embody the notion that diversity breeds synergy. I see it every day, in everything we do," Hernandez said. "From physical fitness and generating sorties, to organizing base and community events. airmen from every part of our country come together and produce amazing results - here we all fit in, no matter what."
Encouraging other airmen, Hernandez offers the following words.
"Take pride in your work; no matter what your job, always strive to do it well. Develop long-lasting, professional relationships with coworkers and supervisors. Take care of them, and they will take care of you!" he said.
Date Posted:06.14.2012 10:47
Hometown:MIAMI, FL, US
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