Pair of Reservists earn Air Force honors

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Matlock
  • Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs

Air Force Reserve Command senior leaders surprised two Reserve Citizen Airmen recently with the news that they have been selected for prestigious Air Force-level awards.

Staff Sgt. Kristy L. Riley, 924th Maintenance Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, was named one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, and Master Sgt. Jose R. Pagan Jr., 914th Maintenance Squadron, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York, was selected as the Air Force’s First Sergeant of the Year for 2021.

Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White, AFRC’s command chief master sergeant and Scobee’s senior enlisted advisor, reached out to the award winners via video chat to inform them of their selection and congratulate them.

“I sat there on these boards, and the competition at the Headquarters Air Force level is so tough,” White said on the call to Riley. “For you to make it through the wing, the numbered air force and all the way up to be a 12 OAY winner, this is a huge honor that very few people get – and you are one of them. You make the boss and me so proud.”

Riley is the combat plans training supervisor for the 924th MXS. She was recently nominated for the Air Force Sergeants Association’s Pitsenbarger Award for heroic acts while saving two lives. Among her list of other accomplishments, she qualified 24 Airmen, eliminating a six-year certification backlog and saving $10,000 in temporary duty assignment expenses. Also, she facilitated 112 virtual training periods, mitigating COVID-19 travel impacts and eliminating a four-month backlog.

Pagan led the evacuation of 255 Airmen during a ballistic missile attack while deployed to Iraq. Additionally, as one of two first sergeants in country, he established the first-ever Al Asad Air Base First Sergeant Council, mentoring acting first sergeants from eight squadrons, increasing resilience of 1,200 Airmen. Finally, Pagan founded the Combined Forces Leadership Development Course, a six-week program focused on increasing follower commitment in joint environments.

“We gave you some tools and told you to go lead, and you did it. You got after it,” Chief Master Sgt. Travon Dennis, AFRC’s first sergeant functional manager, said as he joined in on the call to Pagan. “The hard work paid off and I am so proud of you. You did it representing Niagara, AFRC and the big Air Force. So take this with pride and continue to lean forward.”

Scobee thanked both winners for their hard work and dedication to the AFRC mission, and their contributions to the Total Force.