Seventh Air Force names 'Best of the Best'

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --  Seventh Air Force annual award winners and nominees pose for a photo with the 7th AF, 51st Fighter Wing and 8th Fighter Wing commanders - Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, Brig. Gen. Joe Reynes and Col. Jeff Lofgren - and their respective command chief master sergeants. The award banquet took place at the Osan Officers' Club Feb. 24. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chrissy Fitzgerald)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Seventh Air Force annual award winners and nominees pose for a photo with the 7th AF, 51st Fighter Wing and 8th Fighter Wing commanders - Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, Brig. Gen. Joe Reynes and Col. Jeff Lofgren - and their respective command chief master sergeants. The award banquet took place at the Osan Officers' Club Feb. 24. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chrissy Fitzgerald)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --  Mrs. Sherri Kitchens, 51st Mission Support Squadron, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner in the Civilian Manager/Supervisor/Professional category. Here she poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Mrs. Sherri Kitchens, 51st Mission Support Squadron, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner in the Civilian Manager/Supervisor/Professional category. Here she poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --  Mr. Jimmy Genesy, 51st Medical Support Squadron, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner in the Civlian Administration/Technical category. Here he is posing with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chrissy Fitzgerald)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Mr. Jimmy Genesy, 51st Medical Support Squadron, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner in the Civlian Administration/Technical category. Here he is posing with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chrissy Fitzgerald)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --  Mr. Kim, Song Yul, 51st Services Squadron, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner for the Civilian Trades/Crafts/Laborer category. Here he poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Mr. Kim, Song Yul, 51st Services Squadron, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner for the Civilian Trades/Crafts/Laborer category. Here he poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --  Capt. Ryan Crowley, 8th Fighter Wing, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner for the Company Grade Officer category. Here he poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander and Cheif Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Capt. Ryan Crowley, 8th Fighter Wing, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner for the Company Grade Officer category. Here he poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander and Cheif Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --  Senior Master Sgt. James Winkels, 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner in the First Sergeant category. Here he poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Senior Master Sgt. James Winkels, 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner in the First Sergeant category. Here he poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --  Tech. Sgt. Jesse Jacobson, assigned to the Pacific Air Forces Silver Flag Exercise Site in Kadena AB, Japan, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner in the Noncommisioned Officer category. Here he poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Tech. Sgt. Jesse Jacobson, assigned to the Pacific Air Forces Silver Flag Exercise Site in Kadena AB, Japan, is the 7th Air Force annual award winner in the Noncommisioned Officer category. Here he poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --  Senior Airman Myranda Hinguanzo, 8th Operational Support Squadron, is the 7th Air Force annual winner in the Airman of the Year category. Here she poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Senior Airman Myranda Hinguanzo, 8th Operational Support Squadron, is the 7th Air Force annual winner in the Airman of the Year category. Here she poses with Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th AF commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Allen III, 7th AF command chief.

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Three civilian employees and five Airmen were named best in 7th Air Force at the command's annual awards dinner Saturday evening.

The eight winners represented the "best of the best," said Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, commander of 7th Air Force. "I'd like to be able to bring all the nominees up here and give each of them an award, but you can't; you have to recognize excellence."

In all, 23 civilians and servicemembers were recognized in a variety of categories for their accomplishments and contributions in 2006.

The winners, categories and units they represented were:

- Civilian Manager/Supervisor/Professional of the Year: Sherri Kitchens, 51st Fighter Wing

- Civilian Administrator of the Year: Jimmy Genesy, 51st FW

- Civilian Trades/Crafts/Laborer of the Year: Kim, Song Yul, 51st FW

- Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Myranda Hinguanzo, 8th Fighter Wing

- Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Jesse Jacobson, 7th AF

- First Sergeant of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. James Winkels, 51st FW

- Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Master Sgt. Benson McCallister, 51st FW
- Company Grade Officer of the Year: Capt. Ryan Crowley, 8th FW

As the winners were named, attendees from each wing erupted in enthusiastic shouts of encouragement, like "Mustang Stampede, feel the thunder" and "Who's your daddy? The Wolf!"

The theme of the evening's celebration was "Remembering the Past -- Strengthening our Future." That message formed the core of comments by the keynote speaker, Army Gen. B.B. Bell, commander of United States Forces Korea.

General Bell began by recalling the conditions that existed at the end of the Korean War. He remarked that little had changed in regards to the wartime footing the command is on with the constant one-year rotations that is the norm for most servicemembers assigned to Korea.

His vision for the future though, was remarkably different from the current constant turnover.

"I am proposing that U.S. forces in Korea transition deliberately, over time, to normal three-year accompanied tours with families," said General. Bell "And that includes 7th Air Force, with permanently stationed wings, squadrons and units."

In laying out his vision, General Bell gave several reasons why this transition is good for those assigned to Korea.

"We forfeit levels of readiness enjoyed by units that have normal three-year tours elsewhere in the military, we needlessly separate families in a world where the Global War on Terror is already causing separations and we forfeit the opportunity for meaningful and lasting engagement with the good citizens of Korea," he said.

The Pacific region, General Bell said, is a place of important and lasting national interest for the United States where a significant percentage of the America's economic trade occurs.

"Two percent of our active military force is committed to Korea to secure 25 percent of our global economic trade," he said.

This transition, he admitted, would take time but the dividends would be worth it.

General Bell concluded by congratulating the winners and reminding attendees, "Tonight you are ready to fight, and you are securing America and the Republic of Korea for tomorrow."

The eight winners of the 7th AF awards will next compete against other Numbered Air Force winners from around the region for the chance to be named best in Pacific Air Forces.