A look back at 2020 on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Master Sgt. Timothy L. Heggedahl, an intelligence analyst, was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions while deployed to Iraq in 2018-19. SKYWRIGHTER PHOTO/AMY ROLLINS
Master Sgt. Timothy L. Heggedahl, an intelligence analyst, was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions while deployed to Iraq in 2018-19. SKYWRIGHTER PHOTO/AMY ROLLINS

In 2020, the leadership, service members, civilian personnel, contractors and wider community at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base rose to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which touched virtually every aspect of the mission.

Throughout 2020, there were many significant milestones achieved by numerous organizations across WPAFB. Here are some of the milestones, events, COVID-19 related actions, awards and other things that contributed to overall mission success:

Awards/recognition

· Six AFMC civilian senior executives were named 2019 Presidential Rank Awards recipients. The awards feature two categories: distinguished and meritorious. Only 5 percent of Senior Executive Service and Senior Professionals may receive the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award, and only 1 percent may receive the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award. The AFMC recipients are: Distinguished Executive Kathy Watern, executive director; AFLCMC Meritorious Executive Bill Snodgrass, director, Manpower, Personnel and Services; HQ AFMC Meritorious Senior Professional Dr. Alok Das, senior scientist for Design Innovation, AFRL; Dr. Paul Antonik, chief scientist, Information Directorate, AFRL; Dr. Joseph Nichols, technical adviser, Flight Test and Evaluation, Air Force Test Center.

· AFRL engineer Dr. Douglas Talley was honored by the Joint Army-Navy-NASA-Air Force Liquid Propulsion subcommittee with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his 30-year career in leading innovative research into liquid rocket engine physics.

· AFRL aerospace engineer Dr. Campbell Carter was named an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics fellow for his distinguished career in the study of high-speed propulsion.

· Lawrence “Larry” Knight Sr., deputy commander of the Air Force Installation Contracting Center’s 771st Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, was selected to represent the AFMC for the 2020 Air Force Association Outstanding Air Force Civilian Employees of the Year, Civilian Senior Manager Category.

· Air Force Marathon Director Brandon Hough was awarded the Rising Star award Feb. 9 at the 2020 Running USA Industry Conference in Las Vegas. The Running USA Rising Star award recognizes a young professional in the sport who has demonstrated strong leadership, initiative, entrepreneurship and exceptional contributions early in their career.

· Dr. Jennifer Fielding, AFRL’s section chief of Composite Performance and Applications, was one of 20 women who received special recognition from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers for making their mark in aerospace and defense smart manufacturing.

· A group of Air Force Academy cadets hosted by WPAFB was named the Therapeutic Riding Institute’s 2019 Volunteer Group of the Year at its annual awards banquet Jan. 23. This award is given to a service group that went above and beyond for the riding institute during 2019. Accepting the award on behalf of the cadets was Lt. Col. Karen Kramer, 88th Aerospace Medicine Squadron’s Public Health Flight commander.

Franklin ‘Miles’ Smith-Custer has been named the 2020 Ohio Military Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year Program. He stands with his mother, Sara Smith-Custer, a contracting officer in the Contract Execution Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Franklin ‘Miles’ Smith-Custer has been named the 2020 Ohio Military Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year Program. He stands with his mother, Sara Smith-Custer, a contracting officer in the Contract Execution Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

· When most Air Force fighter and bomber aircraft need to strike a target, they rely on the Sniper Pod, which provides long-range detection/identification of targets, as well as all mission surveillance, including close air support of ground troops. The Precision Attack Sniper Integrated Product Team, part of AFLCMC’s Agile Combat Support Directorate, ensures the Sniper Pod operates as designed. The team won the 2019 Secretary of Defense Performance-Based Logistics Award in the Sub-System Category for its work providing modernization and sustainment support to the Sniper Pod.

· Dr. Richard Vaia of AFRL’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate was elected a member to the National Academy of Engineering. Appointment to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions bestowed upon an engineer.

· Master Sgt. Timothy Heggedahl, an intelligence analyst, was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions while deployed to Iraq in 2018-19. Heggedahl’s citation states that he “distinguished himself by meritorious achievement as superintendent, Detachment 2, 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, 321st Air Expeditionary Wing, Bagdad Diplomatic Support Center, Iraq while engaged in military operations against an opposing armed force” from Nov. 18, 2018, to June 25, 2019. Heggedahl led 42 missions outside coalition-controlled areas, traveling more than 250 miles of roadways with confirmed improvised explosive device threats, conducting 66 key leader engagements with a dozen Iraqi Air Force units and 24 Iraqi officers, the citation continued. He also identified important gaps in Iraqi intelligence, and during an enemy rocket attack, coordinated the extraction of two air traffic control liaison officers, the citation states.

Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing commander, accepts the Program Partner of the Year Award on the installation’s behalf. The award recognizes WPAFB’s commitment to Leadership Dayton and the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing commander, accepts the Program Partner of the Year Award on the installation’s behalf. The award recognizes WPAFB’s commitment to Leadership Dayton and the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

· Dr. Alok Das, director of AFRL’s Center for Rapid Innovation, and Dr. Paul Antonik, chief scientist for AFRL’s Information Directorate, received the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Professional for their sustained accomplishments, exemplary public service and long-term dedication to the mission during the PRA Leadership Summit in Washington. Given by the president to exemplary federal leaders, PRA is the highest award a civilian federal employee can receive.

· Jack Owsley III, AFRL’s Sensors Directorate Tech Transfer and Alliance Program manager, was selected from among 300 federal laboratories to earn the 2020 Rookie of the Year Award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer. FLC is the congressionally mandated organization that educates, promotes and facilitates federal technology transfer.

· Kevin Simmons Sr., Affirmative Employment program manager, was awarded the 2020 Parity Inc. Top Ten African American Male award, which acknowledges those who mentor and are involved in the African-American community to help others achieve social and economic equality.

· Senior Airman Lawrence Onochie, a biomedical equipment repair technician at the 88 MDG, was selected as a national USO Volunteer of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2020. Of some 30,000 volunteers worldwide, only seven are selected as USO Volunteer of the Quarter.

· A sensory psychologist and a technology transfer specialist in AFRL’s 711 HPW were selected for a 2020 Excellence in Technology Transfer Award by the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer for Multi-Modal Communication. Dr. Brian Simpson and Dr. James Kearns were selected for the successful technology transfer of MMC, which is a system invented to manage complex communication environments.

· Ten scientists and engineers from AFRL earned accolades as winners of 2019 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math awards. This prestigious honor from the office of the Air Force Chief Scientist and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math recognizes Department of Defense civilians for their technical contributions, career achievements and superior dedication to the mission.

· The F-35 Joint Program Office’s Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Team was recognized as a 2020 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award winner for Environmental Excellence in Weapon System Acquisition in the large program category April 22. ESOHT received the honor for its actions to eliminate hazards associated with the production, operation and maintenance of the F-35 Lightning II. One of the team’s most prominent accomplishments was its work in eliminating hazardous heavy metals traditionally employed in aircraft for protection against equipment wear and corrosion.

Senior Airman Lawrence Onochie, a biomedical equipment repair technician at the 88th Medical Group, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, shows two certificates he’s been given for his two years of devoted service as a USO volunteer on base. Onochie has been selected as one of seven USO Volunteers of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2020 worldwide. SKYWRIGHTER PHOTO/AMY ROLLINS
Senior Airman Lawrence Onochie, a biomedical equipment repair technician at the 88th Medical Group, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, shows two certificates he’s been given for his two years of devoted service as a USO volunteer on base. Onochie has been selected as one of seven USO Volunteers of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2020 worldwide. SKYWRIGHTER PHOTO/AMY ROLLINS

· AFIT’s Center for Space Research and Assurance was selected as winner of the General Muir S. Fairchild Educational Achievement Award for 2019.

· Felicia Harlow, an AFRL Sensors Directorate senior security research engineer, was selected by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Dayton Section to receive the 2020 IEEE Dayton Section Women in Engineering Award. Within IEEE, Women in Engineering work to promote women in STEM careers, and inspire young girls to pursue careers in these areas. Harlow, who has been volunteering with the organization since 2007, was recognized for her contributions to IEEE at both the local and regional level.

· Dr. Kerianne Hobbs, a research aerospace engineer with AFRL’s Aerospace Systems Directorate, earned the 40 Under 40 Award from the International Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. The award is given to 40 individuals ages 40 and under for their significant contributions in a technical STEM field by providing innovation, thought leadership and support to their client or organizations using information technology.

· Franklin “Miles” Smith-Custer was named the 2020 Ohio Military Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year Program and awarded a scholarship. He is the son of Sara Smith-Custer, a contracting officer in AFLCMC’s Contract Execution Directorate. (June 19)

· Dr. Candice Hatcher-Solis, a research scientist in AFRL’s 711 HPW, was honored with the Women of Color STEM Technical Innovation in Government award for her mentoring, leadership, spirit of innovation and advocacy for women and minorities in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

· Lt. Col. Jay Rutledge, an associate professor and senior military faculty member at AFIT and performing a yearlong sabbatical in the directorate, earned the 2020 Science, Engineering and Technical Management Award in the Science and Engineering Educator category at the AFMC level June 22.

· Wright-Patterson Medical Center was designated a “High-Performing Facility” in the Culture of Patient Safety Survey conducted by the Defense Health Agency. Of 22 facilities identified as large in DHA, the medical center was one of three facilities identified in the high-performance group.

· AFRL scientist Dr. Steve Kim was honored with the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers Professional Achievement Award for his innovative research and persistent drive to tackle challenging and evolving subject matter. Kim is a scientist in the Performance Optimization Branch of the 711 HPW’s Airman Systems Directorate.

· The Society of American Military Engineers honored Randall Parker, director of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s Detachment 6, and David Perkins, director of the 88 ABW Strategic Initiatives Office, during a ceremony held virtually Sept. 16. Parker received the Gerald C. Brown Mentoring Award for lifetime achievement during SAME’s Academy of Fellows Class of 2020 Investiture. Perkins was inducted into SAME’s Academy of Fellows.

· Dr. Adedeji Badiru, dean of AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management, received the second annual Taylor & Francis Lifetime Achievement Award during a virtual ceremony Oct. 30. This award is in honor of Badiru’s significant and pioneering contributions in the field of industrial and systems engineering and his extensive publication record, including books, book chapters and also serving as series editor or co-series editor of the “Systems Innovation Book Series,” “Environmental and Occupational Health Series” and “Analytics and Control Series.”

· AFRL’s 711 HPW was awarded the 2019 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. The wing, comprised of the Airman Systems Directorate, USAFSAM and a robust support team, shared the award with three other AFMC units.

· WPAFB was among the honorees Oct. 21 during Leadership Dayton’s annual meeting. Col. Patrick Miller, 88 ABW and installation commander, accepted the Program Partner of the Year Award on the installation’s behalf. It recognizes WPAFB’s commitment to the organization and Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

· Air Force Civil Engineer Center announced winners of the 2020 Air Force Design Awards, recognizing seven innovative designs that embody the best in new construction, landscape architecture and facility renovations and additions. In the Facility Renovations and Additions category, the Bldg. 32 Renovation project won an Honor Award, the highest achievement.

· Civilian Airman and electrical engineer for AFLCMC’s Fighters and Advanced Aircraft, Monique Brisson was honored with the Professional Achievement in Government award during the 2020 Women of Color STEM Virtual Conference, held Oct. 8-10.

1st Lt. Eigen Wang, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, wins the Air Force title and third overall in the 61st annual U.S. Armed Forces Chess Championship, held Oct. 10-12 in Virginia Beach, Va. It was Wang’s first time competing at the tournament. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
1st Lt. Eigen Wang, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, wins the Air Force title and third overall in the 61st annual U.S. Armed Forces Chess Championship, held Oct. 10-12 in Virginia Beach, Va. It was Wang’s first time competing at the tournament. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

· Two WPAFB Airmen brought home honors for the Air Force at the 61st annual U.S. Armed Forces Chess Championship, held Oct. 10-12 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. First Lt. Eigen Wang, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, won the Air Force title and finished third overall, while Maj. Gordon Randall, 88th Comptroller Squadron director of operations, was second in the Air Force and fourth overall.

· The Aerospace Medical Association honored AFRL physician researcher Brig. Gen. (Dr.) James McEachen with the title of fellow for his career-long accomplishments and professional dedication to aerospace medicine leadership, operations, education and research. McEachen is an aerospace medicine physician researcher and the optimization of human capital core research lead for AFRL’s 711 HPW. He is also a brigadier general in the Air National Guard, where he currently serves as ANG assistant to the Defense Health Agency director of combat support as well as the director of the joint DHA Reserve Liaison Office.

Community engagement

· Airmen participated in a “Valentines for Vets” event at the Dayton VA Medical Center on Feb. 13. More than 20 handed out valentines to veterans who were visiting, hospitalized or living on the hospital’s campus. The U.S. Air Force Band of Flight also performed for veterans at several locations on Dayton VAMC’s campus. More than 30 Team Wright-Patt Airmen worked together to make the event happen.

Construction/facilities

· Maj. Julie Roloson, 88th Security Forces Squadron commander, and Gold Star family members Chris Herwick and Don Herwick cut the ribbon Oct. 21 to officially open Defenders Grove at WPAFB. Defenders Grove is made up of 14 trees, each dedicated to the memory of a fallen 88 SFS Defender who made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. A plaque with the name and information of the Defender for whom it’s dedicated is located beside each tree. The grove was paid for through donations from Defenders and private organizations.

Maj. Julie Roloson, 88th Security Forces commander, and Gold Star family members, Chris Herwick and Don Herwick, cut the ribbon to officially open the Defenders Grove at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Oct. 21. Defenders Grove is made up of 14 trees, each dedicated to the memory of a fallen 88th Security Forces Squadron Defender who paid the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/WESLEY FARNSWORTH
Maj. Julie Roloson, 88th Security Forces commander, and Gold Star family members, Chris Herwick and Don Herwick, cut the ribbon to officially open the Defenders Grove at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Oct. 21. Defenders Grove is made up of 14 trees, each dedicated to the memory of a fallen 88th Security Forces Squadron Defender who paid the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/WESLEY FARNSWORTH

Credit: Wesley Farnsworth

Credit: Wesley Farnsworth

· The safety and security of the nation’s air and space realms will be enhanced by a new addition to NASIC, where a groundbreaking ceremony was held Nov. 5. The five-story Intelligence Production Complex III project, with an estimated price tag of $156 million, will add 255,000 square feet, divided into more than 980 workstations, mission-specific functions, meeting areas, 3D visualization capabilities, conference rooms and such amenities as mothers’ rooms, natural light and showers. Almost 700 new parking spaces will be included. The addition is scheduled for occupation in early 2025.

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