Iowa Air National Guard announces outstanding Airman

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael McGhee
  • 185th ARW Wing Public Affairs

The Iowa Air National Guard Headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa announced their Outstanding Airman of the Year, Staff Sgt. Kortney M. Mezera, Master Sgt. Justin Coop, Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Freiberg, and Senior Master Sgt. Royd Chambers all received honors in their respective categories. All will be forwarded for consideration for the national award.

The criteria for the Airman of the Year award are based on job performance, leadership in primary duties, significant self-improvement, and involvement in base and surrounding community activities.   

Mezera of the 132nd Wing Force Support Squadron received the award in the Airman category, Coop from the 132nd Wing Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Group was named in the Non-Commission Officer category, Freiberg from Joint Forces Headquarters, Johnston, Iowa was named in the Senior Non-Commission Officer category, and Chambers of the 185th Air Refueling Wing and Operations Group was named in the First Sergeant Category.

Chambers a Sheldon, Iowa resident, originally joined the Air Force in 1979 and served four years active duty as a Command and Control Specialist.  After a 17 year break in service, he joined the Iowa Air National Guard in 2000 as a Chaplain Assistant. In 2011, he became the first sergeant with the 185th Mission Support Group.

Chambers is a full time teacher and believes education plays a major factor in every Airman’s career.  He has been putting these principles into practice as an instructor at the Sheldon, Iowa Community School District the past 20 years.

Chief Master Sgt. Phil Frank, the 185th Air Refueling Wing Command Chief, said education is important, like attending Airman Leadership School, Non-Commission Officer Academy, or completing of the various level of career development, but it is only part of what is considered in the selection process for Airman of the Year.

“Some of the developmental things that a person does can really make them stand out. For example, if a person continues to work on self-improvement and remains active in activities within their community, all while performing at a top level in their primary duty, the package starts to write itself,” said Frank.

Chambers is no stranger to the Airmen of the Year program having earned the award on three previous occasions. Once as an NCO at the group level and two times as an Airman.

Chambers explains service before self is not just a motto in his current position, it is the most important piece of the job description.

 “You just try to serve those around you the best you can. That’s what the first shirt business is all about, serving people. I really have enjoyed being a first sergeant for the 185th, it’s the best job I’ve ever had,” said Chambers.

According to Frank, there was a change in the selection process this year for Honor Guard Manager and Honor Guard Member of the Year. Individual nominations in the Honor Guard categories were sent directly to the National Guard Bureau for consideration, rather than selecting a winners from each of the 90 wings in the 50 states and four territories.

In addition to being selected at the state level, each of the Airmen from the Hawkeye State are awarded the Iowa National Guard Meritorious Service Medal.


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