JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Air National Guard named its Outstanding Airmen of the Year awardees this month at the Missouri National Guard’s headquarters at Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City.
The awardees were decided by a panel of chief master sergeants hand-picked from around the state, said Missouri State Command Chief Master Sergeant Laura Clark.
“Our leadership takes this recognition program very seriously, and because of the caliber of our Airmen from around the state it’s always a very difficult decision to make,” Clark said. “Our Airmen accomplished great things in 2013 – the 139th Airlift Wing continued its role as a leader in the airlift community and supported numerous overseas deployments; the 157th Air Operations Group supported overseas exercises and provided command and control during spring flooding; and the 131st Bomb Wing passed its Initial Nuclear Surety Inspection earlier this year and achieved full operational capability in the nuclear, B-2 mission.”
The awardees are Senior Airman Ashlea Garrison, of the 131st Comptroller flight, who was named Airman of the year; Staff Sgt. Tyler Owenby, of the 131st Security Forces Squadron, who was named Noncommissioned Officer of the Year; Senior Master Sgt. Nicholas A. Eyman, of the 131st Operations Support Flight, who was named Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the year; and Master Sgt. Frank Pliemling, of the 131st Mission Support Group, who was named First Sergeant of the Year.
Garrison, a financial manager, enlisted in the Missouri National Guard in 2010. She earned Distinguished Honor Graduate and Academic Excellence while at technical training, and was awarded the Commandant’s Award while at Airman Leadership School.
Garrison’s commander, Capt. Gary Leadstrom, said she is an outstanding Airman who deftly works financial issues and is a good steward of taxpayer money. She is also cool under pressure, Leadstrom said. During the government shutdown, she ensured technicians continued to be paid on time.
Garrison’s success stems from her willingness to help others, Leadstrom said.
“Senior Airman Garrison is a team player,” Leadstrom said. “She is committed to others. She was appointed academic monitor for Airman Leadership School students, where she lead group study and creates test study guides. One hundred percent of the students passed.”
Fellow 131st member Owenby has also distinguished himself both individually and as a team player, said his commander, Maj. Catherine Germain.
As the administrator of the headquarters’ drug testing program, Owenby plays a pivotal role in ensuring Airmen are living up to the Air Force values.
“Staff Sgt. Owenby has developed a tracking system that was key in reducing the number of overdue drug positive packets to zero,” Germain said. “He has also coordinated with Air and Army National Guard leadership to ensure personnel obtain proper treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.”
As a member of the 131st Security Forces Squadron, Owenby participated in the Red Flag Exercise alongside members of the active duty 509th Bomb Wing, Germain said. He also participated in the 157th Air Operations Group’s Terminal Fury Exercise and provided security for Jefferson Barracks.
In the senior noncommissioned officer category, Eyman, an aircrew flight equipment craftsman with the 131st Operations Support Squadron, earned top honors. A teacher in civilian life, Eyman uses those same skills to educate the 131st’s Airmen. He has had a key role in breathing new life into the wing’s Student Flight, which is responsible for preparing young Airmen for training, said Lt. Col. Ryan Bailey.
“Senior Master Sgt. Eyman is a benchmark educator,” Bailey said. “He mentored and educated more than 45 new recruits for basic military training and technical school, easing their transition to military life. It has been an unqualified success, with more than 60 percent of his student flight members earning accolades at training.
In the final category, First Sergeant of the Year, Pliemling took home the top honor. Pliemling, the first sergeant of the 131st Mission Support Group, has served in the Missouri Air National Guard since 2004. After working on F-15s as an active duty Airman and a Missouri Guardsman, Pliemling cross-trained into flight line avionics on the B-2 when the 131st moved from St. Louis to Whiteman Air Force Base.
As first shirt, Pliemling is responsible for overseeing and developing policies and programs for hundreds of Airmen spread over a 213 mile radius, said Col. Mark Beck.
“Master Sgt. Pliemling is a trusted mentor and senior enlisted adviser who is concerned with the morale, welfare and conduct of his Airmen,” Beck said. “He inspires confidence and respect, and was selected by his peers to serve as vice president of the wing’s first sergeant council.”
All four Airmen’s packages will go on to represent the Missouri Air National Guard at the national competition in early 2014, Clark said.
“All the Airmen who were recognized by their squadrons, groups and wings represent the professionalism of our force,” Clark said. “They are a reminder of the hard work and dedication of Missouri’s 2,500 Citizen-Airmen. We are very proud of all of their accomplishments, and look forward to their continued success.”
In the photo, from left to right: Master Sgt. Frank Pliemling, of the 131st Mission Support Group, who was named First Sergeant of the Year; Senior Master Sgt. Nicholas A. Eyman, of the 131st Operations Support Flight, who was named Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the year; Staff Sgt. Tyler Owenby, of the 131st Security Forces Squadron, who was named Noncommissioned Officer of the Year; and Senior Airman Ashlea Garrison, of the 131st Comptroller flight, who was named Airman of the year. –Missouri National Guard photo courtesy of 131st Bomb Wing/RELEASED.