An Air Weapons Officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Captain Gipson tactically controlled over 900 coalition aircraft and controlled assets that led to the successful airdrop of over 1,000 Army paratroopers. Her team played an integral role in coordinating the rescue of 7 American POWs in northern Iraq. She faced a different battle on the home front when her fiance was injured in a car accident resulting in incomplete paraplegia. For months, she was by his side in the hospital and rehabilitation center. She became a caregiver to all 10 patients in the ward, feeding them and spending time with those whose families rarely visited, proof that great officers are great people first.
"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.