2003 airforce Times
Honorable Mentions

Master Sergeant Eric Hanson

16th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field

Master Sgt Eric Hanson, security supervisor for the 16th Special Operations Wing, exemplifies what a "Quiet Professional" is all about. "He has got the right priorities: mission, troops and the community," said his squadron commander. He was hand-picked to conduct site surveys of classified locations to be used in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Yet, his commander says, "He will not get the glory that is usually associated when bullets start flying . . . and he will never complain about it." From leading U.S. Special Operations Command teams on sensitive missions to developing plans that protect and guard Hurlburt Field during events and tropical storms, MSgt Hanson is the 'go-to-guy', says one of his fellow NCOs.

As his unit's temporary first sergeant, "MSgt Hanson oversees 250-personnel that includes 80 Army National Guard troops, who he makes feel right at home," says one colleague. While this 'top cop' oversees the daily security operations for the Air Force Special Operations Command, he does not lose sight of the importance of each troop and their family members under his command. Another unit officer stated, "At work, he just does it all and still manages to watch over this unit, his extended family." When he is not deployed, MSgt Hanson makes a positive impact on the Hurlburt Field community as the chairman of the local Combined Federal Campaign, as a youth basketball and bowling coach, and he organizes appreciation dinners for families of airmen still deployed to Iraq. One deployed airman's spouse stated, "Most folks with 20+ years look to retire, but MSgt Hanson is here taking care of business – he's taking care of us." As his commander says, "In every way, MSgt Eric Hanson is an airman's airman."

Senior Airman Darwin Rivera

314th Communications Squadron

"Senior Airman Rivera is the epitome of an 'outstanding performer'," says his commander. He was recognized in the 2002 Operational Readiness Inspection by the Inspector General team, was selected as the 314th Communication Squadron's Airman of the Year in 2002 and is the 2003 Air Education and Training Command's annual award winner for communication and information systems. One NCO IG inspector said that SrA Rivera developed the two "best practice" programs he's seen used throughout the Air Force. "He goes above and beyond every day doing the work of the next higher rank without a complaint", says his supervisor.

Off duty, SrA Rivera gives generously of his time in youth, community and church programs. Each year he travels to Puerto Rico to mentor the youth in his old neighborhood, emphasizing anti-drug education and ways to succeed in life. During his last trip there, he recruited a young person into the Air Force and saw the recruit off to basic training. "I think that's commendable and pretty cool, too," said his commander. While stationed at Little Rock, SrA Rivera has mentored over 20 at-risk kids through the Big Brother/Big Sister Programs, helped struggling airmen via the base's Airman's Attic program and provided assistance to the elderly through the Meals-on-Wheels program. "He is well-rounded in all that he does," says one NCO. "This tireless bluesuiter is a true champion of base and community involvement, a top-notch professional in every way". SrA Rivera epitomizes the best of those serving in the Air Force today.