AFRL honors lab’s top performers at 2021 annual awards ceremony Published March 17, 2022 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 STO-2B 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: www.afresearchlab.com.