Two Niagara airmen win Air Force info-dominance award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kylar Vermeulen
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing

Two service members from the 914th Air Refueling Wing were selected as award winners for the U.S. Air Force Information Dominance award for the year of 2022.

Capt. Ronald Fugate and Amy Zebulske won the Air Force Information Dominance award from Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, each in their respective categories. Fugate was awarded in the Company Grade Officer (CGO) Category and Zebulske in the Air Force Outstanding Civilian Category One.

The annual award is given to U.S. Air Force teams and units for showing superior, quality performance while providing information dominance and cyberspace operations to the Air Force and the Department of Defense while conducting missions or operations for an extended period.

Both Fugate and Zebulske are members of the 914th Communications Squadron, who’s personnel specialize in computer integrated software and technology that is used to ensure mission readiness for service members across the installation.

“I’m very humbled, as a CGO,” Fugate stated in an interview. “I don’t feel like they were really my efforts individually, it also fell on my team. It kind of just speaks to how the cyber and IT community can contribute to the overarching missions of the Air Force.”

Fugate’s leadership paired with his team’s overall effort and action during a deployment to Agadez, Niger in 2021 is what led to the recognition.

“As a leader, I depended heavily on my team,” Fugate stated. “All the bullets we put in for my award were based on the efforts and accomplishments of our team.”

His team was tasked with preparing for combat communications, so the base could rapidly transfer vital, and possibly lifesaving, information without fail.

Fugate can always be counted on to exceed expectations.
Lt. Col. Daniel Lunsford, 914th Communications Squadron Commander

“A lot of the work we did was to harden the base for combat communications, so when they come in, they can set up your initial communications systems,” Fugate stated. “It was the nitty gritty things, like running cables to ensure that the people here can communicate, and that the base can endure over the course of the next few years.”

Here at Niagara, Lt. Col. Daniel Lunsford, commander of the 914th Communications Squadron, says Fugate is a critical member of his team and to the wing.

“Ron’s efforts extend not only to his assigned work center, but also to leading, mentoring and promoting members within our squadron,” Lunsford said. “He plays a key role across the base in a number of different commander driven programs and initiatives, and he can always be counted on to exceed all of their expectations.”

Amy Zebulske joined the 914th Communications Squadron in March of 2020. She joined the publications and forms program after years of working with other squadrons across the wing.

“To be recognized for this ahead of others who have been doing it longer than I have I think shows the seriousness with which communications takes in this program, and the effort that the knowledge management team put into this.” Zebulske said.

Zebulske helps to cover the installation’s records management including Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Lunsford commended Zebulske for her contributions to the squadron.

“Amy is a dedicated professional and has a really strong work ethic.” Lunsford said. “She sets the bar high with her attention to detail, and just how driven she is to tackle some of these things.”

When Zebulske made the switch over to the Communication Squadron she immediately got to work to tidy up programs that required immediate attention.

We worked step by step to fix these problems.
Amy Zebulske

“When the position was created, our publications and forms program had been in disarray for probably at least eight years, it didn’t get the focus that it really needed,” Zebulske stated. “We had a lot of deficiencies and had been written up on multiple inspections, and so our goal was to fix this program.”

Zebulske closed out two years’ worth of backed up FOIA cases. Her willingness to attack and solve large problems ultimately led her to take the award. But she says her success was not a one-person feat.

“By no means was this all me, it didn’t function without getting the help I needed from not only from leadership, but also with our customers on base who have publications,” Zebulske stated. “We worked step by step to fix these problems, and we aren’t done yet, but we are getting to a point where it’s a whole lot better than it was when I walked in the door.”

Wing leadership said it’s team members like Fugate and Zebulske that help Niagara not only get the mission done but done right.

“We are super proud of the work they are doing” Lunsford stated. “This was just really a testament to the work that they have done and the high caliber of people that we have here.”