February 8, 2005
By Maj. Debbie Magaldi
Four Virginia Air National Guard members have been selected as Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
“The backbone of the U.S. military is our enlisted force,” says Brig.Gen. R. Anthony Haynes, Deputy Adjutant General for Air of the Virginia Air National Guard, “and I consider our Virginia Air Guard enlisted members to be among the best of the best.”
“Competition to select the 2004 Virginia Air National Guard Outstanding Airmen of the Year was stiff. Every person that went before the Headquarters’ board had already been selected as an outstanding Airman in their respective units. I salute each of these highly skilled and motivated individuals,” he added.
Taking top honors this year was Tech Sgt. Andre Davis, a 203d RED HORSE Squadron power production craftsman, who was named overall Virginia Air National Guard Outstanding Guardsman of the Year for 2004, as well as the VaANG Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. Senior Master Sgt. Robert Laws, 203d RHS vehicle maintenance superintendent, was chosen as the VaANG Outstanding Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. Senior Master Sgt. Antonia Vincent, 192d Security Forces Squadron, received the title VaANG Outstanding First Sergeant of the Year title. And Senior Airman Margaret Koerner, 192d Mission Support Flight personnel journeyman, was awarded the VaANG Outstanding Airman of the Year award.
“These individuals represent the very best within the Virginia Air Guard. They bring incredible energy, passion and knowledge to their jobs and are quick to identify ways to make their respective duty sections better and better. Please keep up the great work,” Haynes says.
Davis, both the VaANG Outstanding Guardsman of the Year and Outstanding NCO, is described by superiors and subordinates alike, as a leader who inspires confidence and respect. In August 2004 he was recognized as a Superior Performer during the Unit Compliance Inspection, for the CA/CRL book he developed to track his shop’s accountable equipment items. Other 203d shops adopted his book as their model. He is the equipment custodian for the electrical and power production shops and manages resources valued at $1.5 million.
In addition to his many regular duties, Davis is also a Unit Fitness Manager. In that capacity he established a physical training program to ensure his unit reaches and maintains 100 percent participation; and as a health care instructor, he maintains his yearly qualifications and certifies unit members on cardiovascular pulmonary resuscitation. He serves as his cantonment flight’s Unit Career Advisor, and has participated in several highly visible events to highlight 203d RHS recruiting.
He has earned an Associate’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Thomas Nelson Community College — finishing in the top three percent of the class, and is now pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering at Old Dominion University where he maintains a 3.56 grade point average. Davis organized and trained the unit’s first Honor Guard, and under his leadership the team has participated at several Veterans Day and Memorial Day events and at the National Day of Prayer ceremony in Richmond. In his free time he supports youth mentoring, which includes among other activities, volunteering 10 hours each month at the local YMCA.
Laws, the VaANG Outstanding Senior NCO of the Year, supervises both fulltime and traditional Guard members as the 203d’s Vehicle Maintenance Superintendent and Chief of Transportation. He is responsible for more than 100 vehicle and equipment assets valued in excess of $3 million. Under Laws’ supervision, the unit’s fleet of vehicles has maintained a commission rate of 84 percent, which is notably above the major command’s goal, and his section accomplished this despite losing two fulltime maintenance technicians due to force-reduction requirements. And with Laws’ leadership and guidance, his shop received no Findings or Does Not Comply ratings during last year’s Unit Compliance Inspection. To prepare his troops, he developed a comprehensive vehicle maintenance training booklet so personnel in upgrade training could better track their personal progress.
He is an involved member of St. John’s Baptist Church where he has served as a Deacon for the last four years, is a youth counselor and serves on the building committee for a $3 million sanctuary and office expansion.
First Sergeant of the Year Vincent is widely trusted and admired for her directness, professionalism and integrity. As Security Forces first sergeant, she deals with problems and concerns in a timely manner. She holds individuals accountable for their behavior, but constantly works to preserve and increase the welfare of all unit Airmen. She is an excellent listener and consistently advises her commander on the health, morale and welfare of the squadron.
Vincent developed an awards training package and trained flight sergeants and an awards monitor on writing effective awards packages, enhanced the unit’s Dependent Care and Family Care Programs by discussing the impact of military life to family members and assisting them in adjusting to military life, and she has spearheaded the base’s participation in the Christmas For Tots Stocking program. The results of her ability is a squadron that has responded numerous times and in a most professional manner to repeat calls to service — that have surpassed the frequency, duration and intensity of any other unit on base. She is a driving force behind the Wing’s First Sergeant’s Council
Additionally, she holds associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees; and is a trained Crisis Responder and diversity facilitator for her civilian employer, Philip Morris, where she manages 19 people. She is committed to both of her careers and pursues a variety of additional activities including an association with The Stromsburg Society (preserver of Black Culture), the NAACP, a board member with the Cabarrus County Mediation Center (resolving teen conflict), a member of the Air Force Association and Air Force Memorial Foundation, and is a lifetime member of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS).
As a younger member of the Military Personnel Flight, Koerner has already been making her mark as an outstanding airman. She enthusiastically contributed to the Student Flight Development Program Planning team by helping to develop and implement innovative ideas and strategies to educate non-prior service enlistees of their unit and Air Force responsibilities. After completing her 5-level upgrade training in minimum time, she volunteered to attend Personnel Support for Contingency Operations (PERSCO) training at Keesler AFB, Miss., and earned the 297 Special Experience Identifier.
According to Capt. David Schlagel, MPF commander, she provides flawless support for customers — ensuring their successful enrollment in the Virtual MPF computer system, which includes updating critical documents such as the Virtual Record of Emergency Data. Her most recent challenges include handling taskings for the Wing’s Operational Readiness Exercises in preparation for the ORI. She is working towards completion of a Master’s Degree in School Counseling at Radford University, where she is also the resident director for Washington Hall and oversees 200 undergraduate students, five resident assistants, and five student assistants.
She is a volunteer leader with the VaANG Youth Group and is active in a variety of elementary school and college programs that help students dealing with issues, including the deployment of a parent.