NY Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing announces Airmen of the Year awards

Wing recognizes six Airmen for exceptional service

SCOTIA, NEW YORK (01/18/2023) (readMedia)-- Six Airmen from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, have been named wing Airmen of the year in recognition of their exceptional service.

The five have been recognized as "Outstanding Airman of the Year" in categories based on their rank and responsibilities in the 1,140-member air wing.

Those recognized are:

• Staff Sgt. Jennifer Street, a Clifton Park resident, as Airman of the Year.

• Staff Sgt. Yazuny Dalton, a Rotterdam resident, as Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.

• Master Sgt. Randoph Welch, an Albany resident, as Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.

• Master Sgt. Donna Torres, a Halfmoon resident, as First Sergeant of the Year.

• Major Tracy Pauquette, a Pattersonville resident, as Company Grade Officer of the Year.

• Master Sgt. Ryan Burnah, a Cohoes resident, as Base Honor Guard Member of the Year.

Airmen that receive this distinction are exceptional leaders, have gone above and beyond their typical job duties and exemplify the Air Force Core Values of Integrity, Excellence and Service Before Self.

The five members of the 109th Airlift Wing will now compete against their peers from the New York Air National Guard's other four wings to determine who are the top Airmen in the 5,900 member organization.

Airman of the Year- Staff Sgt. Jennifer Street, a Clifton Park resident, was awarded Airman of the Year.

Street has been a member of the 109th Airlift Wing for over four years and works as a crew chief on the LC-130 aircraft.

She was named Airmen of the Year prior to her promotion to the non-commissioned officer ranks.

As a crew chief, Staff Sgt. Street ensures aircraft integrity through maintenance inspections, troubleshooting malfunctions, service of aircraft systems, operation of aerospace ground equipment, coordination with specialty shops, and oversight of maintenance policies and procedures.

Street volunteered for a deployment to Camp Lemonnier, Africa where she enabled 1,105 aircraft flight hours and supported moving 2.5 million pounds of cargo and transport of 1,553 passengers. Additionally, Street deployed to Greenland to provide support for the National Science Foundation, where she was essential in the completion of 68 training missions.

In her civilian life, Street is pursuing a Bachelor of Nursing degree and serves as volunteer on a local ambulance crew.

Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year- Staff Sgt. Yazuny Dalton, a Rotterdam resident, has been named the wing Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for 2023.

Dalton, the Fitness and Food Program Manager for the 109th Airlift Wing, has been a member of the unit for three years.

As the fitness and food program manager, Dalton is responsible for conducting fitness assessments, ensuring more than 1,000 Airmen are current and deployable, she plans regular scheduled drill meal menus, prepares food ordering lists and updates the food training program.

Dalton implemented the Air Force "Go for Green" Program by bringing awareness to the wing through conducting educational classes on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, she served as a health care facility manager on the Joint Task Force directing a 4-person team, spending 2,000 hours on mission and securing 80 residents at 3 different locations.

She also managed a robust food services program, advocated the need for new items to better support an amplified menu and increase services production capability resulting in the purchase of new kitchen equipment for the 109th.

Dalton's awards include the Air and Space Achievement Medal, Air and Space Outstanding Unit Award, and New York Counterdrug Service Ribbon

Dalton is originally from the Dominican Republic and now resides in Rotterdam, NY with her four children.

Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year- Master Sgt. Randolph Welch, a Guilderland native, earned the title of the 2023 Outstanding Airman of the Year in the senior non-commissioned officer category.

Welch has been a member of the 109th Airlift Wing since 2006 and is currently a training manager for the wing's operations group, where he serves as the advisor to the group commander on training and education for more than 300 personnel.

In 2022, Welch was a driving force behind creating a joint military and civilian training partnership between the wing and a regional hospital.

This partnership filled a training shortfall for 40 medical technicians and 25 nurses in both the 109th Medical Group and Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, overcoming a two-year deficiency.

Additionally, Welch identified a coding error in a base training program which resulted in officers not getting scheduled for Total Force Officer Training.

Identifying and amending this issue directly resulted in the advancement of 6 officers' careers across the wing.

Welch's awards include the Air and Space Commendation Medal, Air and Space Achievement Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.

Welch currently lives in Albany with his spouse, Amanda, and their two beagles.

First Sergeant of the Year- Master Sgt. Donna Torres, a resident of Halfmoon, has been awarded the title of the 109th Airlift Wing's 2023 First Sergeant of the Year.

Torres is the First Sergeant for the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

As a First Sergeant, Torres maintains discipline, standards, health and welfare of enlisted personnel. She ensures discipline is fair and equitable, and provides counsel and assistance as needed.

Torres distinguished herself through exemplary service, deploying to Greenland three times to include filling a critical shortfall.

She ensured the billeting, safety and wellbeing of 295 members.

While deployed to Greenland, Torres coordinated 10 glacier hikes for 50 members, six incentive flights for 10 members, and orchestrated a pancake breakfast to feed 95 members, increasing morale of the Airmen.

Torres' awards include the Antarctica Service medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, Air Force Achievement medal and the Air Force Commendation medal.

Torres is originally from Pittsfield, Mass. and now resides in Halfmoon with her two children.

Company Grade Officer of the Year- Major Tracey Pauquette, a resident of Pattersonville NY, has earned the title of the 109th Airlift Wing's Company Grade Officer of the year.

Pauquette is the acting commander of the Logistics Readiness Squadron.

As commander, she has distinguished herself through exemplary service; leading 120 airmen for seven months and ensuring mission readiness of more than 1,100 personnel for deployment in support of Overseas Contingency Operations, and Operations Deep Freeze and Raven Dew wherein the unit deploys to Antarctica and the Arctic regions of Greenland in support of the National Science Foundation.

In addition to her responsibilities as a military commander, Pauquette is an active role model and volunteer in the local community contributing to her town's "Adopt-a-Family" program as well as volunteering with the Schalmont School District.

Pauquette's awards include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with device, Army Achievement Medal and Army Commendation Medal.

Pauquette is originally from Durham, N.C. and now resides in Pattersonville with her daughters.

Base Honor Guard Member of the Year – Master Sgt. Ryan Burnah, a Plattsburgh native, won the 2023 Outstanding Airman of the Year in the base honor guard category.

As a member of the base honor guard, Burnah performs military funeral honors for deceased veterans.

This past year, he performed over 108 military funeral honors, giving up over 25 weekends and holidays to provide families with time honored military traditions.

Burnah managed logistical requirements to include personnel, equipment and transportation efforts for over 300 funeral requests, ensuring Air Force veterans and retirees across three states were honored with dignity and respect.

One of the funerals he performed was for a fallen 109th Airlift Wing member. Burnah was the lead trainer for the Base Honor Guard team in attendance and coordinated pall bearing and casket guard training for ten 109th Maintenance Group members.

He also coordinated a training day with the Saratoga National Cemetery Honor Guard Association commander to conduct a joint training effort on Air Force flag folding and Funeral Honors protocol.

This joint training revamped the Veteran Service Organization's funeral procedures and created a unified image for five funeral teams, both military and civilian.

Burnah's awards include the Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.

Burnah currently resides in Cohoes with his girlfriend Mackenzie.

The winners will be honored at a ceremony later this year.

The 109th Airlift Wing flies the LC-130, the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world, which can land on ice and snow. The wing regularly flies missions to Antarctica and Greenland in support of National Science Foundation research and trains to conduct operations throughout the Arctic region.

Photographs of these Airmen can be found on the New York National Guard FLCKR site here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nyng/albums/72177720305349358