2021 Outstanding Airmen of the Year

  • Published
  • By Jaimi Chafin
  • Air Force Reserve Command headquarters

Air Force Reserve Command leaders recognized exceptional Reserve Citizen Airmen during the 2021 AFRC Outstanding Airmen of the Year ceremony held virtually, May 5.

All winners and nominees competed in their respective Numbered Air Force before moving forward to compete at the major command level.

The AFRC Outstanding Airmen of the Year winners for 2021 are:

Airman of the Year: Staff Sgt. Kristy L. Riley.

Riley is the Combat Plans Training Supervisor at the 924th Maintenance Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. She saved two lives and was nominated for the Pitsenbarger Award for heroic acts. Among her list of accomplishments she assembled 60 bombs, qualified 24 Airmen eliminating a six year certification backlog and avoiding $10k temporary duty assignment expenses, and facilitated 112 virtual training periods mitigating COVID travel impacts and eliminating a four month backlog.

NCO of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Clint Melancon.

Melancon is the NCOIC of NC3 Systems, 307th Bomb Wing Command Post, Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. He developed 20 total force professionals during 2020 in addition to authoring a nuclear communication system computer based training which was implemented across the Department of Defense.

Senior NCO of the Year: Master Sgt. Jason W. Cangemi.

Cangemi is a Security Forces Airman and NCOIC of Combat Arms at the 306th Rescue Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. Cangemi volunteered 170 hours over eight different functions raising $900 and increasing morale in 2020. Additionally, he led an AFRC weapons test team and chaired the first headquarters Air Force lethality working group.

First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. Jose R. Pagan, Jr.

Pagan is the First Sergeant for the 914th Maintenance Squadron, 914th Air Refueling Wing, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York. This award is based on three components; impact on mission readiness and execution, fostering resilience and teams in community, and developing their self and others. Among Pagans list of accomplishments which garnered him this award, he planned and executed an evacuation during an OPERATION MARTYR SOLEIMANI attack safeguarding the lives of 255 Airman, for which he was awarded a bronze star. Additionally, he tackled wide-spread pay issues reducing late payments by 82% and pioneered the first Central Command multi-national leadership course which helped bolster the alliance between U.S. and coalition forces.

These Airmen will go on to compete for the 2021 Air Force Outstanding Airmen of the Year.