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Vance member among 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year

Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Sewell, 71st Mission Support Squadron personnelist, was recently named one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Sewell, 71st Mission Support Squadron personnelist, was recently named one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AETCNS) -- A Vance Air Force Base NCO is still in disbelief after being named one of the Air Force's 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2006.

Staff Sergeant Elizabeth Sewell, 71st Mission Support Squadron Military Personnel Flight personnelist, was in the middle of 7-level school at Keesler AFB, Miss., when she got the notification June 9.

"Maj. Gen. Mike Gould, the 2nd Air Force commander, came into my classroom that day to tell me," Sergeant Sewell said. "I thought for sure he made a mistake — I was previously told I had to meet another board and the results wouldn't come out until August — but it was the truth. It still hasn't hit me, and I don't think it will until September."

Sergeant Sewell, who won the award as a senior airman, will attend the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C., which begins Sept. 24. There, she and the other 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year will officially receive their award. They will then also be authorized to wear the Outstanding Airman Badge for one year.

"We were also awarded the Outstanding Airman of the Year ribbon with a bronze star to wear for the rest of our careers, and the other nominees can wear the ribbon itself," she said.

Winning the elite award also includes frequent temporary duty assignments for the Airmen.

"We serve on the AFA's enlisted advisory council for one year, which means we'll attend conferences about once a quarter," Sergeant Sewell said. "I'm excited to get to see so many other places. Winning this award has definitely opened a lot of doors for me."

This will help in her future, because she plans on making the Air Force a career, retiring as a chief master sergeant.

"Sergeant Sewell's future is limitless, because she's got one heck of a start," said Chief Master Sgt. Jim Suttles, 71st Flying Training Wing command chief. "She'll do well in anything she wants to, and she's the perfect example of what one could be in today's Air Force when you take advantage of every opportunity offered to you."

As one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen, Sergeant Sewell "represents all Airmen here, and as one of the three senior airmen named, represents all Airmen in the Air Force," Chief Suttles said. "She's an incredible example for us all, and I'm proud to be on the same team."

Sergeant Sewell, a military "brat," joined the Air Force in 2002 after three years of college in Missouri. Her parents now reside in Denver, and she said her mom is one of her biggest influences.

"My mom is a 20-year career personnelist, so I look a lot at what she's done and try to follow her footsteps," Sergeant Sewell said. "The people I work with have also done a lot, including (former MPF superintendent) Chief Master Sgt. Don Sibble and Tech. Sgt. Bobbie White (NCO in charge of relocations and formal training), who turned me from a shy airman first class into the NCO I am now. Getting to this point has been a collaborative effort of many other people I have come in contact with, and I would like to extend a ‘thank you' to them all."

"I am very proud of Staff Sergeant Sewell," said Master Sgt. Mary Cole, superintendent of relocations and employments. "She reminds me of the younger me; detail-oriented, fearless and always the leader of the pack. I think she amazed herself in how far she has come. I can see her in charge of any successful group. She is the future, and it is bright."

Sergeant Sewell was twice named a Wing Airman of the Month and Quarter during 2005 and was the 2005 Wing Airman of the Year. She also won at the 19th Air Force and Air Education and Training Command levels before the Air Force-level award.

Sergeant Sewell's other accomplishments for 2005 include filling an NCO position for six months during a 55-percent reduction in MPF manning, working a 65-hour work week with zero Personnel Reliability Program discrepancies. She also completed nine semester hours toward her bachelor's degree in healthcare management from Bellevue University, achieving 80 hours to date; she received her Community College of the Air Force degree in human resource management; she was selected as the Air Force Sergeant's Association Chapter 990 First Term Airman of the Year; and she volunteered 36 off-duty hours to raise $1,914 for various squadron events.

"To say we're proud of her is an understatement," Chief Suttles said. "When you see an Airman you work with who goes on to do something like this, it's amazing. It's not just unusual, it's rare. There are only 12 Outstanding Airmen each year in the active-duty Air Force and Reserves, and to say one comes from Vance speaks to the quality of all our Airmen. We may not be the biggest wing, but we've got the best (people)."

An Air Force selection board at the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, considered 33 enlisted nominees who represented major commands, direct reporting units, field operating agencies and air staff agencies. The board convened in May and selected the 12 based on superior leadership, job performance and personal achievements. For the complete list of winners, visit www.af.mil/news.
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