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January Shirt's Blast

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Carl Clegg
  • 169th Mission Support Group

Hello Swamp Fox! Last month, we heard from William Shakespeare regarding the Air Force Awards Program. In the 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, we’ve graduated from showing off battle scars to wearing campaign ribbons and personal awards. Today, awards have become mileposts in our careers. When it comes to personal awards, the Airman cannot award him or herself for outstanding achievements, they are wholly dependent on supervisors to mark those successes.  

Commanders and supervisors, what have you done lately to recognize your Airmen? AFI 36-2803 says, “A member’s immediate supervisor determines the propriety of a decoration recommendation” (1.15.7). The Air Force puts a great deal of trust in its enlisted leadership. Though any Airman can initiate an award, NCOs and Senior NCOs are the ones who bear the greatest responsibility to ensure the Airmen in their charge are properly recognized. The AFI warns not to submit decoration recommendations in a token effort to “do something for your people,” but supervisors have wide latitude to decide what constitutes awardable performance.

Commanders are tasked with administering the awards program and signing the individual awards. Generally speaking, group commanders sign Achievement and Commendation Medals and the wing commander signs Meritorious Service Medals. 169th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Akshai Gandhi, has made timely recognition of deserving Airmen a top priority. You may ask, “Why should I spend my time writing awards when I barely have enough time to accomplish the mission?” The answer is that unappreciated Airmen may eventually leave you to accomplish the mission yourself.

If you are a supervisor, taking care of Airmen is a huge part of the mission. The 169th Fighter Wing and the Air Force have made it as simple as possible for you from an awards perspective. Col. Gandhi has emphasized the use of regular language, not award speak, in order to make the awards easier for families to read and supervisors to write. He says to imagine a grandfather reading to a child sitting on his knee–that’s how simply it should be written.

Supervisors should already keep track of the accomplishments of their Airmen for EPRs. All that needs to be done is write those in sentence format, plug them into the form on Virtual Personnel Center and forward it to your CSS or commander and you are done! VPC will automatically generate the appropriate opening and closing sentences. And to make it even easier, there’s a step-by-step PowerPoint with screenshots on the BaseShare drive, X:\BaseShare\Awards Guidance, to walk you through the VPC process. This guide will be updated frequently to make the process as easy as possible.

No one expects you to write awards on the same level as William Shakespeare. The important part is to get the ball rolling and ask for help when needed. The Swamp Fox first sergeants are ready and willing with experience and practical advice to help you take care of your Airmen.