Hunt named Air Force STS Officer of the Year

  • Published
  • By By Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
1st Lt. Bryan Hunt, a special tactics officer with the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, has been named the U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Officer of the Year — the first Air Guardsman to receive the accolade.

The honor, presented Aug. 24 in a ceremony at the Pentagon, is well-deserved, according to his former commander, Lt. Col. Sean McLane.

“While I’m not surprised that Bryan is performing at such a high level, I am very happy that the entire special tactics community realizes it,” said McLane, who recently stepped down as commander of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and will retire from the Kentucky Air Guard in December.

“We really are a total force, and a Guard guy getting that award reflects that. This is not the kind of award you’re just going to hand out to somebody who isn’t your best performer. To recognize Bryan Hunt as the best special tactics officer across the total force — that really says something.”

Hunt said he was humbled by the honor, which he views as a reflection of every Airman in the squadron.

“I think it kind of speaks to the caliber of the unit, the leadership and the people of this unit,” he said. “It reflects on not just us, but the 123rd Airlift Wing and Air National Guard as a whole and how they support us here at the Special Tactics Squadron.”

According to McLane, Hunt makes “consistently good decisions well above what someone would expect of a new lieutenant” and delivers a “superior product” on the battlefield.

“His training plans always meet command guidance and he always ensures that his men are organized, trained and equipped to accomplish the mission — and I didn’t give him a lot of guidance to do that,” McLane said. “It’s up to him to figure out all the non-specified tasks, and all the little things that will make that happen. When his Airmen deploy, they’re superior to anyone with the same time in grade and service because their training plans and instruction are superior. Bryan makes sure that happens.”

Hunt enlisted in the Florida Air National Guard’s 125th Fighter Wing as an intelligence specialist in 2003. After leaving Florida in 2006, he joined the Kentucky Air Guard as a combat controller with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and was commissioned in 2014.

As a combat controller, Hunt has deployed multiple times in support of various named and unnamed military operations, including Operation Enduring Freedom, where he served as the sole terminal attack controller for several U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps special forces. During his deployment for Operation Inherent Resolve, Hunt and his team were responsible for the elimination of hundreds of insurgent fighters and the destruction of countless pieces of equipment.

“He’s always been a superior performer,” McLane said. “You could see it even when he was a staff sergeant. He’s a courageous decision maker, he’s got high moral standards, and he’s always thinking and planning ahead. He does not equivocate. He thinks before he speaks, and he considers the second and third-order effects of his decisions. There’s a systematic approach to everything he does that maximizes efficiency.”

Hunt credited the award to the leadership of his unit and his fellow Airmen.

“As a leader, you’ll never know everything, and you have to surround yourself with people who are extremely intelligent and probably better than you at many things,” Hunt said. “I think that’s what makes a good leader: the ability to utilize all of your resources to the maximum extent.

“I believe that’s what this unit does probably better than everything,” Hunt continued “We have all of the right people in the right places. They are all extremely easy to work with. They communicate well and are, in my opinion, above their peers in every facet of the Air Force and the Air National Guard. I would put them up against anybody, any day of the week.”