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Chief's return to tradition is 'investment in Airmen'

From left, Chief Master Sgt. Howard Bellamy II, 460th Security Forces Squadron manager; Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna, 460th Operations Group chief enlisted manager; Chief Master Sgt. Craig Hall, 460th Space Wing command chief and enlisted awards board president; and Chief Master Sgt. Mark Stagray, 460th Medical Group superintendent, inspect awards packages during the annual awards board Jan. 27, 2014, at the 460th SW headquarters building on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. All competitors met the annual awards board as part of their overall submission packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

From left, Chief Master Sgt. Howard Bellamy II, 460th Security Forces Squadron manager; Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna, 460th Operations Group chief enlisted manager; Chief Master Sgt. Craig Hall, 460th Space Wing command chief and enlisted awards board president; and Chief Master Sgt. Mark Stagray, 460th Medical Group superintendent, inspect awards packages during the annual awards board Jan. 27, 2014, at the 460th SW headquarters building on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. All competitors met the annual awards board as part of their overall submission packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

Senior Airman Joshua Cunningham, 460th Mission Support Group Airman category annual award nominee, prepares his uniform before taking an official photograph as part of his annual award package Feb. 3, 2014, at the 460th Space Wing Public Affairs Office on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The photograph was one requirement for the annual awards competition, which also included meeting a board of four Buckley chief master sergeants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Riley Johnson/Released)

Senior Airman Joshua Cunningham, 460th Mission Support Group Airman category annual award nominee, prepares his uniform before taking an official photograph as part of his annual award package Feb. 3, 2014, at the 460th Space Wing Public Affairs Office on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The photograph was one requirement for the annual awards competition, which also included meeting a board of four Buckley chief master sergeants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Riley Johnson/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Gregory Whittet, 460th Mission Support Group NCO category annual award nominee, takes his official photograph for his annual awards package submission Jan. 24, 2014, at the 460th Space Wing Public Affairs Office on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The photograph was one requirement for the annual awards competition, which also included meeting a board of four Buckley chief master sergeants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Gregory Whittet, 460th Mission Support Group NCO category annual award nominee, takes his official photograph for his annual awards package submission Jan. 24, 2014, at the 460th Space Wing Public Affairs Office on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The photograph was one requirement for the annual awards competition, which also included meeting a board of four Buckley chief master sergeants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

Master Sgt. Jody Brown, 460th Medical Group, right, helps prepare Capt. John Doleski, 460th MDG company grade officer category annual award nominee, uniform before meeting the annual award board Jan. 27, 2014, at the 460th Space Wing headquarters building on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. All competitors met the annual awards board as part of their overall submission packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

Master Sgt. Jody Brown, 460th Medical Group, right, helps prepare Capt. John Doleski, 460th MDG company grade officer category annual award nominee, uniform before meeting the annual award board Jan. 27, 2014, at the 460th Space Wing headquarters building on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. All competitors met the annual awards board as part of their overall submission packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

From left, Maj. Nicholas Musgrove, 460th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander; Col. Michael Kindt, 460th Medical Group commander and officer awards board president; Lt. Col. Julie Huygen, 460th Space Wing staff judge advocate; and Maj. Peter Norsky, 460th Operations Group standards and evaluation chief, discuss the annual awards board process Jan. 27, 2014, at the 460th SW headquarters building on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. All competitors met the annual awards board as part of their overall submission packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

From left, Maj. Nicholas Musgrove, 460th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander; Col. Michael Kindt, 460th Medical Group commander and officer awards board president; Lt. Col. Julie Huygen, 460th Space Wing staff judge advocate; and Maj. Peter Norsky, 460th Operations Group standards and evaluation chief, discuss the annual awards board process Jan. 27, 2014, at the 460th SW headquarters building on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. All competitors met the annual awards board as part of their overall submission packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

Capt. John Doleski, 460th Medical Group company grade officer category annual award nominee, sits before a mock annual awards board panel Jan. 27, 2014, at the 460th Space Wing headquarters building on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. All competitors met the annual awards board as part of their overall submission packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

Capt. John Doleski, 460th Medical Group company grade officer category annual award nominee, sits before a mock annual awards board panel Jan. 27, 2014, at the 460th Space Wing headquarters building on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. All competitors met the annual awards board as part of their overall submission packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

Master Sgt. Katie Neeley, 460th Space Wing Staff Agencies senior NCO category annual awards nominee, knocks on the door before meeting the awards board Jan. 27, 2014, at the 460th SW headquarters building on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. All competitors met the annual awards board as part of their overall submission packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

Master Sgt. Katie Neeley, 460th Space Wing Staff Agencies senior NCO category annual awards nominee, knocks on the door before meeting the awards board Jan. 27, 2014, at the 460th SW headquarters building on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. All competitors met the annual awards board as part of their overall submission packages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- To answer questions before four decorated chief master sergeants or high-ranking officers is tough, but to do it in a competition against the best the wing has to offer - that's a whole other level of pressure.

However, that is exactly the type of challenge that defines a 460th Space Wing annual award winner. After exacting uniform inspections and cramming the 500-page Professional Development Guide, representatives from each group have a chance to compete before the board for the right to be called the year's best Airman.

"These boards provide us opportunities as senior leaders to see who our superstars are across the wing; each one of these individuals who are meeting the board are the best from our groups," explained Chief Master Sgt. Craig Hall, 460th SW command chief.

"It's a win-win for both of us. We get to see these folks from a front-row seat, and they get the opportunity to represent themselves, their groups and their squadrons and really let us know who they are," the command chief said.

For Tech. Sgt. Gregory Whittet, 460th Mission Support Group NCO category annual award nominee, this is a chance to articulate his written award package and showcase his specific accomplishments to the board. It is also an opportunity for him to see his equally deserving 460th SW members get a chance to be highlighted for all the hard work they do every day.

"I believe as an NCO, we need to take the time to recognize our Airmen that don't just come to work and earn a paycheck," Whittet said. "We want to take the time and recognize our Airmen that have a huge impact on the Air Force mission. I'm talking about the individuals that step up to the plate every day, day in and day out, and tackle the hard tasks that are put before them."

The chief saw this board process as a chance to bring additional legitimacy to the awards program and get back to the roots that shaped him into the chief he is today.

"This is something that I did as a younger Airman, and I just knew the goodness that comes with it," Hall stated. "It's turning back the clock and bringing back some old traditions. I think this makes us stronger as a wing."

While the board process gives members a greater connection to their awards packages, it also provides Airmen with an opportunity to build camaraderie and get more face time with senior leaders from across the base, the chief said.

Competitors may end up being evaluated by more than 80 years of experience before the board process is over, but board member Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna summed up the board's opinion of the old tradition as "an investment in our Airmen" - an investment that will designate each year's best Airmen.
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