Winner
Senior Airman Joseph Moreland
1st Special Operations Communications Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida

"[Senior Airman] Moreland, while young, is a leader. Plain and simple."

Col. Christopher Ireland, who commanded Moreland during his recent deployment to Afghanistan

Senior Airman Joseph Moreland isn't your typical communications airman.

A tactical cyber systems operator with the 1st Special Operations Communications Squadron, Moreland has deployed three times since joining the Air Force in December 2011. And on his deployment last year, his office wasn't on a base in Afghanistan, it was riding alongside special operations troops to austere locations, setting up crucial communications lines to assist in high-value missions.

"I've never seen everything come together so smoothly," Moreland said of his work setting up communications for Air Force and Army special operators in the field. "It's like a 1,000 piece puzzle, but you have all the pieces and they all fall right into place.? Moreland's commanders highlighted his work in 2014 in Afghanistan, saying he should be recognized as the 2015 Air Force Times Airman of the Year. "(Senior Airman) Moreland, while young, is a leader. Plain and simple," said Col. Christopher Ireland, who commanded Moreland during his recent deployment. "He embraced his combat role in Afghanistan, and we empowered him with responsibility and authority beyond his rank."

Ireland said that during his time in Afghanistan, Moreland was responsible for creating new tactical communications for the Special Operations Air Component to control air and ground assets. Forward deployed to austere locations, he created the sole communications source for special operations joint task force personnel. During his deployment, an Army Special Forces team's fiberoptic line was destroyed, "essentially isolating them from the rest of the world." Moreland was de-ployed and had their communications back up and running within 24 hours.

 

He also led a project to install 20 wired and six wireless Internet suites for more than 500 military dorm residents at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Earlier, he was the comm person for the first-ever 1 SOW reintegration team to go to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.?

Moreland lives near the base in Niceville, Florida, with his wife and daughter. After work, Moreland volunteers with an animal rescue facility. He also coordinated a volunteer effort following flooding in the area, leading eight volunteers and saving about $50,000 in goods. Moreland also coaches tee ball in Shalimar, Florida, and coordinated a Combined Federal Campaign fundraiser last year to raise hundreds for military charities.?