Honorable Mentions

Tech. Sgt. Emanuel Dela Cruz

437th Aerial Port Squadron, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina

Tech. Sgt. Emanuel Dela Cruz is in charge of cargo operations at Joint Base Charleston, where he makes sure pallets are properly built for the aircraft on which they will be loaded and that the aerial porters are properly trained. While deployed as the Senior Controller/Duty Officer of the Air Terminal Operations Center (ATOC) at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Tech. Sgt. Dela Cruz was engaged in the coalition humanitarian aid to 55,000 Iraqi refugees trapped in the mountains of Iraq due to Islamic State group advances. His efforts led to the airdrop of more than 300,000 pounds of food and water over 26 missions, within eight days. In a separate assignment, he helped transport 30 up-armored Humvees to Ukraine.

In his free time, Dela Cruz volunteers with the Summerville Miracle League, which teaches baseball to special needs children. He encourages the children to enjoy their time as he teaches them to bat, catch and run the bases.

Notable quote from his nomination form: "He continually sets the example for all airmen to follow."

Senior Master Sgt. Gene Kapuchuck

55th Communications Squadron, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska

Senior Master Sgt. Gene Kapuchuck is a leader in Air Combat Command's (ACC) second largest communications squadron. Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, is a vital communications hub that links the president's airborne command center and the defense secretary with the nuclear launch control centers. When those communications links go down, Kapuchuck's maintainers need to fix them instantly. Kapuchuck led the team replacing E-4B external communications transmission cables resulting in the restoration of the president defense secretary's National Nuclear Air Operations Center capability. During a Milstar NC3 outage, Kapuchuck directed maintenance teams resulting in the sustained message flow of 4 million Nuclear Command and Control messages. He was recognized as the 55th Communications Group Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) Lance P. Sijan nominee, the highest award for leadership in the Air Force.

When he wasn't at work, Kapuchuck devoted 840 hours to the 55th Wing Victim Advocate and Omaha Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence crisis hotline. During the World Refugee Day Health Fair, he briefed 200 members on intimate partner violence and available resources, effectively bridging the gap between the military and the local community. His involvement doesn't end there, however. In 2014, Kapuchuck became a Defense Department credentialed Master Resiliency Trainer. He utilized this to train and certify 17 installation Resiliency Training Assistants, effectively strengthening base members' ability to recover from adversity. Kapuchuck volunteers with the Center for Women's Advancement and a domestic abuse and suicide aversion line. He helped one airman, who lost a child, but he declined to talk about that due to privacy concerns.

Notable quote from his nomination form: "He is the only reason I was successful as an Operations Flight Commander. His presence in the squadron is a boon, and I would absolutely want him working with me, or my friends and peers, for the rest of my career."