Keller, Baker, Sanderson named top troops in KYANG

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. James Killen
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Newly promoted Staff Sgt. Daniel Keller, Tech. Sgt. Timothy Baker, and Master Sgt. Jason Sanderson will be honored at a banquet in Louisville March 4 as the Kentucky Air National Guard's Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2016.

The three Airmen were selected because of their leadership and performance in their primary duties, dedication to self-improvement, and base and community involvement, according to the Kentucky Air National Guard Chief's Council, which selects the winners.

Keller, the winner of the Airman category, is a combat controller in the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron. In the past year, Keller has used his combat skills to control more than 140 combat sorties, conduct several high-risk special operations missions and become the honor graduate in both the United States Air Force Special Operations Terminal Attack Controller Course and Static-Line Jumpmaster Course. To highlight the difficulty of that accomplishment; the Static-Line Jumpmaster Course has a 50 percent dropout rate for students.

“Keller was selected to Airman of the year based on his motivation, ‘can-do attitude’ and his leadership qualities,” said his supervisor, Master Sgt. Jair Matis. “His performance is commensurate with an E-5 or E-6. As an Airman, Keller exemplifies leadership qualities in every aspect we could ask for. Upon completing his Joint Terminal Attack Controller rating, Dan was progressed forward into an instructor role, and has excelled in all aspects of that role.”

Baker, the winner of the Non-Commissioned Officer category, is an explosive ordnance disposal flight chief in the 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron. In the past year, Baker has destroyed more than 1,600 pounds of unserviceable munitions, responded to several threats and potential threats in the region, assisted local police departments with training and manpower, resulting in vital joint relationships, and was instrumental in the design and implementation of a deployed-response trailer, increasing the squadron’s on-base response capability.

“Baker had a really good year, and while he was deployed he was one of our top performers,” said his supervisor, Chief Master Sgt. Shane Lagrone. “He has a drive and desire to go above and beyond all the time, and he is always taking control of the younger Airmen, keeping them on track with training and performance.”

Sanderson, the winner of the Senior NCO category, is an aircraft mechanic with the 123rd Contingency Response Group. In the past year, Sanderson has deployed in support of AFRICOM and SOUTHCOM operations in Djibouti and Columbia, using his fluency in Arabic and Spanish to instruct coalition partners in aircraft systems and maintenance. In addition to being a distinguished maintainer, Sanderson has completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is active in non-profit and religious organizations in the civilian community.

“Sanderson’s awards package wrote itself,” said his supervisor, Master Sgt. Matthew Hourigan. “He is truly a leader among men and an honor to work with. The greatest thing that stands out about Jason is his work ethic and I can trust him with anything.”