2009 Outstanding Airman of the Year Published Feb. 7, 2010 By Senior Airman Nichole Ramirez 146 AW SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Four Airmen from the 146th Airlift Wing were honored as 2009's best of the California Air National Guard and presented with the prestigious Minute Man statue to recognize their dedication and achievements during the Annual Airman of the Year Banquet at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento Jan. 16. State Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. Michael S. Koslow, introduced all of the nominees form the entire state and referred to them as "the best of the best." Adjutant General Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II spoke to the character of the Air National Guard, referring to Airmen as a "Company of Heroes." Maj. Gen. Wade stated that his heroes were not those seen on television or music videos; that he does not look up to overpaid and self indulgent athletes, but rather to our guard members. "My heroes are the people sitting in this audience and overseas who wear Air Force blue," said Maj. Gen. Wade. His praise was followed by Commander of the Air National Guard, Major General Dennis G. Lucas, who teased that the Adjutant General had stolen all his thunder and knew more about the Air National Guard than he did. Major Gen. Lucas commended the enlisted personnel of the Air National Guard for their hard work and dedication, and pointed out that the top 20 nominees in the room were simply the tip of the iceberg of the talent in the Air National Guard. "It's our enlisted core that makes this train run," said Major Gen. Lucas. The four awards to Airmen from units throughout the state are for the categories of Airman of the Year, Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, First Sergeant of the Year. Nominees from the 146th Airlift Wing included Senior Airman Jonathan J. Bass for Airman of the Year, Staff Sgt. Kacie Webb for Non-Commissioned Officer, Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Fitts for Senior Non-Commissioned Officer and Master Sgt. Bob Taylor for the First Sergeant category. Amidst the banging sounds of thunder sticks, whistles and various noise makers, Command Chief Master Sgt. Rick Onsgard of the 146th Airlift Wing read out the winners for each category. The State of California 2009 awardees are: Airman of the Year, Senior Airman Danny Rafferty, 163rd Reconnaissance Wing; Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, Master Sgt. Sara J. Van Dalen, 144th Fighter Wing; Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, Senior Master Sgt. Jason Red, 129th Rescue Wing; First Sergeant of the Year, Senior Master Sgt. Bob Taylor, 146th Airlift Wing. In addition to the First Shirt category, the 146th Airlift Wing was also honored with the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. The event was well attended and showed tremendous support, further speaking to the dedication the members of the Air National Guard have, not only for mission, but for each other.