AFRL honors lab’s top performers at 2021 annual awards ceremony

  • Published
  • By Bryan Ripple
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – People from across the Air Force Research Laboratory enterprise joined together during a hybrid virtual and in-person award ceremony March 1 to honor the lab’s 2021 Annual Award winners. The awards ceremony, held at Wright-Patterson AFB, included teleconference participants from 14 other AFRL locations across the United States.

Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle, AFRL commander, delivered opening and closing remarks, recognizing the exceptional efforts, accomplishments, and unique skills of AFRL’s Airmen and Guardians as One Lab Supporting Two Services. Serving as emcees during the event were 2nd Lt. Paul Bean and Jessica Yates, both from AFRL’s Aerospace Systems Directorate. The invocation was given by Chap. (Capt.) Kristin Swenson.

Special guests attending the ceremony were Jack Blackhurst, former AFRL Executive Director, and Abby Neal, daughter of Richard Neal.

From the AFRL Command Staff were Tim Sakulich, Executive Director, Col. Paul Henderson, Vice Commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Bill E. Fitch, Command Chief. Joining via VTC were directors, supervisors, awardees, friends and family members from all operating locations.

“Greetings Air Force Research Lab. It’s wonderful to have you all here today, celebrating our inspired leaders, who are part of One Lab Supporting Two Services,” Pringle said during opening comments. “As you know, we have 15 locations supporting this event from all around the United States. We don’t do this enough, frankly, and what you do in this science and technology enterprise is really hard work. I’m glad you all took the time today to pause and celebrate those that have really gone above and beyond in their work over the past year in helping the research lab be the best team that we can.”

Pringle shared the reasoning behind the term of endearment she uses to describe those who are part of AFRL – unicorns.

“Every single unicorn in Air Force Research Lab matters. There’s a really important reason why I call you all unicorns. One of the reasons is because you have special talents that are unique and nobody else shares those throughout the entire Department of the Air Force. Whether it’s the Air Force or the Space Force, no one has your unique set of special capabilities. What you do is so special to help further air superiority and space superiority.”

The AFRL Annual Awards recognize excellence in numerous varied capacities, including Airman of the Year, Mission Support, Diversity, and the Commander's Cup.

The 2021 AFRL Annual Award winners are:

Airman of the Year
Specialist Danielle D. Lynch, 711 HPW/Fort Same Houston, Texas

Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
Tech. Sgt. Jesse M. Reyes, AFRL/RD, Det 15, Hihei, Hawaii

Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
Senior Master Sgt. Cassie M. Gaddis, 711 HPW, WPAFB, Ohio

Company Grade Officer of the Year
Capt. Stephanie Spiker, AFOSR, Arlington, Va.

Individual Mobilization Augmentee Company Grade Officer of the Year
Capt. Dustin R. Strickland, AFRL/RV, Kirtland AFB, N.M.

Field Grade Officer of the Year
Maj. Adam Sheridan, AFRL/RG, WPAFB

Individual Mobilization Augmentee Field Grade Officer of the Year
Lt. Col. Joshua F. Torgerson, AFRL/RI, Rome, N.Y.

Civilian Category I
Jonathan L. Moorman, AFRL/RX, WPAFB, Ohio

Civilian Category II
Patrick M. Hyden, AFRL/RQ, WPAFB, Ohio

Civilian Category III
Michael D. Pilkenton, AFRL/RY, WPAFB, Ohio

Administrative Exellence Award
Jack A. Brown, 711 HPW, WPAFB, Ohio

Senior Administrative Excellence Award
Sandi R. Ortega, AFRL/RV, Kirtland AFB, N.M.

Supervisory Award
Carrie C. Crane

Leadership Award
Dr. Andrew J. Metcalf, AFRL/RV, Kirtland AFB, N.M.

Senior Leadership Award
Gabriel D. Mounce, AFRL/RV, Kirtland AFB, N.M.

Mission Support Individual Award
Jeferey T. Light, AFRL/RY, WPAFB, Ohio

Mission Support Team Award
RSF Financial Team (AFRL/RS, WPAFB, Ohio

International Individual Award
Dr. Nathaniel Lockwood, AFOSR, Arlington, Va.

International Team Award
Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence International Team, AFRL/RI, Rome, N.Y.

Scientific and Technical Technician Individual Award
Kevin L. King, AFRL/RQ, WPAFB, Ohio

Scientific and Technical Technician Team Award
Range Operations Team, AFRL/RW, Eglin AFB, Fla.

Scientific and Technical Management Individual Award
Capt. Dillon T. Roberts, AFRL/RQ, Edwards AFB, Calif.

Scientific and Technical Achievement Individual Award
Dr. Timothy P. Fleming, AFRL/RD, Kirtland AFB, N.M.

Scientific and Technical Achievement Team Award
Semiconductor Laser team, AFRL/RD, Kirtland AFB, N.M.

Mr. Jack Blackhurst Innovation Award
Robert J. Denton Jr., AFRL/RI, Rome, N.Y.

Diversity Award
AFOSR, Arlington, Va. and AFRL/RQ, WPAFB, Ohio

Commander’s Cup Junior Force Individual Award
Verenice Mondragon, AFRL/RG, Austin, Texas and Mr. Apoorva I. Bhopale, AFRL/RV, Kirtland AFB, N.M.

Commander’s Cup Individual Senior Award
Dr. James Sumpter, AFRL/RW, Eglin AFB, Fla.

Commander’s Cup Team Award
Skyborg/AAAx Team, AFRL/RS, WPAFB, Ohio and AFRL/RW, Eglin AFB, Fla.

Commander’s Cup Richard Neal Special Recognition Award for a Junior Individual
1st Lt. Connor Martin, AFRL/RI, Rome, N.Y.

Commander’s Cup Richard Neal Special Recognition Award for a Senior Individual
Judson McCarty, AFRL/STO, WPAFB, Ohio

Commander’s Cup Richard Neal Special Recognition Team Award

About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: