Two AFWA individuals honored as Air Force award winners

  • Published
  • By Ryan Hansen
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
To say that the Air Force communications and information, or C&I, career field is vast would be an understatement.

To be more specific, C&I is comprised of more than 14 career fields and includes more than 47,600 individuals stationed at installations around the globe.

So when the career field's 2009 annual award winners were announced in late March, it was even more impressive when two individuals from the Air Force Weather Agency were included on that short list.

Senior Airman Dustin Scott, a network infrastructure technician with the 2d Systems Operations Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., was named the Outstanding Communications-Computer Systems Airman of the year while Tech. Sgt. Adam Smith, an applications programmer with the 14th Weather Squadron in Asheville, N.C., earned the Outstanding Communications-Computer Systems NCO of the year.

As expected, both were incredibly surprised when they heard the news.

"Honestly, I was extremely shocked," Airman Scott said.

He learned of the news while attending what appeared to be a routine briefing on enlisted performance reports during Airman Leadership School. At first he was confused when it was his squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Shull, who showed up to provide the brief that day.

"Then I was really confused when he called me up to the front," he said, "but I figured it was just because I was his Airman and he wanted me up there because he knew me."
But Colonel Shull ended the confusion quickly and broke the news that Airman Scott was indeed an Air Force award winner.

"It was certainly a pleasant surprise," Airman Scott said.

The announcement was equally surprising for Sergeant Smith.

"Disbelief at first," he said. "Once it sunk in a bit then I felt immense gratitude toward my leadership and peers who supported me every step of the way. This award is a reflection of my entire team and there would be no award without them."

While some geographically separated units could use their location as a detriment,
Sergeant Smith believes the 14th WS actually uses it to their advantage.

"The 14th exemplifies what the 'Air Force Family' is all about," Sergeant Smith said. "The 14th WS is a great place to be a programmer and I firmly believe Asheville should serve as the Air Force model on how to utilize enlisted programmers."

Sergeant Smith began his career as an MC-130H Combat Talon II crew chief and cross-trained into computer programming. As an applications programmer he designs, codes, tests and maintains software to help the 14th WS accomplish their climatology mission.

"Sergeant Smith has ... the ability to learn and research technologies quickly," said Master Sgt. John Nelson, 14th WS NCO in charge of systems management and Sergeant Smith's supervisor. "Then combined with hard work, extreme dependability and customer focus put him over the top."

Sergeant Smith is one of Sergeant Nelson's go-to programmers and has been a leader for him since his arrival three years ago.

"He's a subject matter expert, great mentor (and) always willing to help team members," Sergeant Nelson said. "Sergeant Smith is very inspiring to the other rising stars we have on our team."

Sergeant Smith credits his success to his leadership at the 14th WS.
"I receive a great deal of support from my leadership," Sergeant Smith said. "They provide us with the training, opportunities and trust necessary to succeed as a programmer."

Even though these two award winners are separated physically by roughly 1,000 miles, they do have daily contact. All of Sergeant Smith's climatological information is disseminated throughout the world by Airman Scott and his fellow network infrastructure technicians at the 2d SYOS.

"What sets Dustin apart is his passion and desire to do well," said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Jacobson, network operations section chief with the 2d SYOS and Airman Scott's supervisor. "If he doesn't know or understand something, he is quick to find the right answers. If there is something broken or a way to do something better, Dustin will be the first person to stand up and do something about it."

In addition to sending weather data out to individual operational weather squadrons around the world, Airman Scott also manages AFWA's routers and switches, local servers and maintaining network security. He also coordinates with outside entities such as the 55th Communications Squadron and the Integrated Network Operations and Security Center.

"His job knowledge and expertise set the standard," Sergeant Jacobson said. "He makes our team better because he is a good leader and is always looking at making the mission move forward."

As Air Force level award winners, Airman Scott and Sergeant Smith may now add the Air Force Recognition Ribbon to their decorations as authorized by Air Force Instruction 36-2805.

"The superb quality of the nominations we received confirms that our Airmen continue to excel in conducting warfighter missions around the world," said Lt. Gen. William T. Lord, Air Force chief of warfighting integration and chief information officer. "The culmination of their efforts to contribute to and support vital Air Force missions and operations led to their selection as the very best of an outstanding group of officers, enlisted and civilians."

As representatives of their squadrons and Air Force weather, Airman Scott and Sergeant Smith will join other C&I award winners at a ceremony May 13 at Andrews AFB, Md.