BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --
The 117th Airman of the Quarter Program is designed to recognize, provide professional development and performance achievement for the wing’s outstanding Airmen. They are nominated by their supervisors and endorsed by their commander into the program for competition.
“We want to recognize model Airmen within the unit,” said Command Chief Master Sgt. David Bullard, 117th Air Refueling Wing. “The award is not all about job performance but combines the total Airman concept wrapped around job performance.”
Each year the program identifies and awards an Airman, Non-Commissioned Officer and a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer within the Wing. Nominations are based on information submitted from the individual squadrons. The nomination package consists of a passing physical fitness test score, biography of the individual, report on individual personnel and a completed Air Force 1206, Nomination for Award. The nominees are interviewed in front of a four-person board. The board of evaluators for the in-person interview consists of the wing human resource advisor and a rotating three-member Senior NCO panel.
The interview portion of the program is comprised of approximately eight questions which include topics of professional development, mentoring, comprehensive resilience, core values, enlisted force structure, base and community involvement and self-improvement. Professional development includes what the Airman has done and where they intend to go in their military career. The subject of force structure is taken from material covered in the Air Force Instruction 36-2618.
“Airmen can’t study for the board, it is not about memory or knowledge of AFI’s but who they are as people,” said Bullard. “Before they go before the board, I prep them so they know what to expect.”
The command chief’s assistance in preparing nominees is done approximately 45 minutes before the interview portion of the program. The pre-interview feedback from the command chief is designed to make program participants aware of how to report to the board along with topic areas of questioning and discussion. The prep time is to put the Airman at ease before they start the interview. This is to help all candidates understand that the selection for Outstanding Airman of the Quarter is not just about giving a right or wrong answer. It is about telling their story and what they bring to the 117th and the Air National Guard
Winners of the award are announced to the base via e-mail, at staff meetings and unit training assembly roll calls. Their names are also displayed on the sign just inside the base gate. Their official Air Force photos are displayed on the Distinguished Airman board in the wing headquarters. In addition to the recognition, they receive an acrylic award and a $100 gift card.
The winners in each category are then submitted for the Alabama Airman of the Year competition. The State Command Chief annually chairs a board made up of SNCO’s from all units in the state along with joint force headquarters personnel. This board reviews and scores nomination packages from all of the Alabama Air National Guard units. Winning packets for Alabama Airman of the Year are then submitted into competition for the ANG Outstanding Airman of the Year. Four honorees selected from across the country travel to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, to participate in a ceremony in Focus on the Force Week, which celebrates the successes of the enlisted corps.
Whether the Airman wins the award or not, it is an important experience for career development. Airmen who participate can use it toward a performance achievement bullet for EPR’s and resumes in general. The program also can help them gain experience for things such as special duty assignments, STEP I and STEP II promotions along with AGR and technician job interviews.
“This gives them an opportunity to do a formal military interview board,” said Bullard. “They will know what to expect and have previous experience when they have to go before any competitive selection that requires a board interview process.”
There have been adjustments to the process with the intent on making it a less tense program. The candidates required uniform has changed from service dress to long sleeve blue shirt.
Any supervisor who would like to nominate a deserving Airman can seek guidance and necessary forms for packets through base-wide distributed e-mails. There is competition within each squadron as they can only nominate one person for the program in each quarter.
“Leadership should encourage their Airmen to want to go through the process,” said Bullard. “Airmen who would like to participate should communicate that to their leadership.”