Guam Guard to recognize its ‘Best of the Best’ Airmen

Airmen, family members and guests will gather for an Enlisted Awards Banquet on Saturday, February 2nd, at the Sheraton Resort Ballroom, to recognize its Outstanding Airmen of the year.

Ten Airmen from the Guam Air National Guard (GUANG)’s four units, 254th Air Base Group (ABG), 254th Force Support Squadron (FSS), 254th RED HORSE Squadron (RHS) and the 254th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) will compete for the top awards as Airman of the Year, Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year and Senior NCO of the Year.

“It is always an extremely difficult task to select the winners from so many outstanding members. But it’s a well-deserved night of fun and camaraderie for the Airmen and their families,” said Chief Master Sergeant John Quinata, Command Chief for the Guam Air National Guard. “Many of our past winners have moved on and won at higher levels.”

Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Frank Yoakum will serve as the keynote speaker for this year’s event. Yoakum has more than 31 years of service in the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard. He is currently the Executive Director of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), a non-profit military service organization headquartered in Washington DC. Organized in 1972, the Enlisted Association represents the interests of National Guard members, their families, retirees, and surviving spouses to the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. He is the third full-time Executive Director of the Association.

Sergeant Major Yoakum began his Army career during the period of conscription in the Vietnam war-era, and spent thirty-one years on active duty in a variety of assignments in the active Army and Army National Guard, culminating in March 2006 while serving as the sole Congressional Legislative Liaison NCO in the entire Army, on the personal staff of the Chief National Guard Bureau. His active duty service included postings to Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Guam, Kansas, Maryland, and Virginia. For his long and honorable service, he was awarded the Legion of Merit—Legionnaire.

SGM Yoakum was even a member of the Guam Army National Guard, stationed at Fort Juan Muna, in Harmon, from 1985 to 1987.

Since retiring, Yoakum has worked as a Congressional lobbyist for EANGUS; and as a DOD contractor in transition assistance, personal finance education, and compensation fraud. He also served in the Technician Personnel Division at National Guard Bureau just prior to his selection as Executive Director of EANGUS.

This nominees for Outstanding Airmen of the Year are:

For Airman of the Year:
• Airman First Class Tovin Mesa (Deployed)
• Senior Airman Sky Topasna
• Senior Airman Danicia Santos (Deployed)

For Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year:
• Master Sergeant Jesse Franquez
• Staff Sergeant Felix Fejeran
• Staff Sergeant Matthew Naputi

For Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year:
• Master Sergeant Dexter Diaz
• Master Sergeant Bhill Alforque
• Master Sergeant Jerry Hinkle
• Master Sergeant Barbara Tayama

The competition in the GUANG spans the entire year. A selection committee looks at the accomplishments of the Airman nominees throughout the year, including leadership opportunities, community service, deployments and physical fitness. The winners will move on to compete against other top Airmen at the Pacific Air Forces Air Guard level and also against winners from the 53 other states and territories across the Air National Guard and possibly even at the Air Force level. (PR)

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