Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD Out of the country's 106,678 Air National Guard personnel, 11 members of the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base (ANGB) were honored earlier this month for their outstanding achievements to state and county.
In a ceremony at Barnes on April 5, Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley, director of the ANG, presented national and state awards to Barnes personnel.
"It is overwhelming to think that I was selected as the best Services Technician in the country," ANG Services Technician of the Year, Staff Sgt. Tina Dimino of West Springfield, said. "It's because of the opportunities my bosses have given me, which allowed me to do so well."
Dimino attributed her success and recognition to the evolution of her work as an enlisted airman since 1998 and the development of a handbook recently adopted by the ANG.
Other national recognitions included ANG Airman Command Post Controller of the Year, Senior Airman Jennifer Krutka of Westfield; National Guard and Reserve Component Transportation Airman of the Year, Senior Airman Naisha Hernandez of Holyoke; and National Guard and Reserve Component Fuels Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year, Staff Sgt. Michael Goonan of Dalton.
When asked why she believed she was selected as ANG Airman Command Post Controller of the Year, Krutka said, "I love the Air National Guard, and I guess that shows in my work. This year I got certified as a controller, and was on duty the day there was a bomb threat on base . I did my job by the book, and everything turned out well."
According to her award nomination package, Krutka exercised "exceptional judgment and time critical decision making [which] were instrumental in the handling [of] a real world explosives threat at Barnes ANGB."
Krutka was further praised within her nomination package as being a "constant role model" and "go-getter."
State recognitions included Massachusetts Airman of the Year, Staff Sgt. Mike Kearns of West Springfield; Massachusetts ANG Retention Manager of the Year, Master Sgt. Tricia Goodreau of Westfield; Massachusetts Honor Guard Member of the Year, Staff Sgt. Christine Willette of Springfield; and Massachusetts ANG Production Recruiter of the Year, Master Sgt. Ernest Smith of Holyoke.
"I was honored to be recognized in front of my coworkers . but they all know that I wouldn't have been standing there without them," Kearns said, adding, "I used to mountain bike on the mountain range [behind the base] and watch the air shows. I always knew that [Barnes] was where I wanted to be."
When asked why he believed he was selected for the award, Kearns said, "I work hard and I am constantly working on getting better at what I do. I also stay active in the community as an Eagle Scout and with the Paul Newman 'Hole in the Wall Gang,' which is a camp for children with terminal or debilitating illnesses."
Kearns also served with the 407th Air Expeditionary Group at Tallil Air Base, Iraq, from Jan. 10 to May 26, 2007. According to his nomination packet, while serving in Iraq, he "aggressively worked in support of aircraft transient maintenance, responsible for ground handling, servicing, routine maintenance and sortie generation of over 1,100 varied U.S. and Allied Coalition aircraft."
Goodreau said she attributed her recognition to her work and the work of fellow Barnes personnel to achieve the 95.7 percent retention rate for fiscal year 2007 (FY07). She was also noted within her nomination packet as achieving a reenlistment rate of 80 percent and increasing the wing's overall strength by 2.1 percent.
"I work hard to improve retention numbers here at the base, but it's the members who made me stand out," she said. "We have a retention rate of nearly 96 percent, one of the best in the nation, and that is a credit to the people here they love what they do and that's why as Retention Manager, our numbers are so good."
Goodreau said she plans to continue her work as a member of the Massachusetts ANG until her eventual retirement.
Senior Master Sgt. Pete Johnson of East Falmoth, Master Sgt. Deb Shilakis of East Longmeadow and Tech Sgt. Barb Anthony of Springfield were also honored for Nation Guard Region 5 FY07 Most Accessions First Quarter.