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Hildesheim, Morris, Freese named top Airmen for 2020

Senior Airman Derek Hildesheim has been named the 2020 Kentucky Air National Guard Airman of the Year in the Airman category. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Senior Airman Derek Hildesheim has been named the 2020 Kentucky Air National Guard Airman of the Year in the Airman category. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Staff Sgt. Marissa Morris has been named the 2020 Kentucky Air National Guard Airman of the Year in the Non-Commissioned Officer category. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Staff Sgt. Marissa Morris has been named the 2020 Kentucky Air National Guard Airman of the Year in the Non-Commissioned Officer category. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Master Sgt. Kevin Freese has been named the 2020 Kentucky Air National Guard Airman of the Year in the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer category. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Master Sgt. Kevin Freese has been named the 2020 Kentucky Air National Guard Airman of the Year in the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer category. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Senior Airman Joseph Hildesheim, Staff Sgt. Marissa Morris and Master Sgt. Kevin Freese have been selected as the Kentucky Air National Guard’s Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2020.

The three Airmen were chosen by the KyANG Chief’s Council based on leadership, job performance in their primary duties and qualities of the “Whole Airman Concept,” said Chief Master Sgt. Shane LaGrone, 123rd Airlift Wing command chief.

Hildesheim, winner of the Airman category, is an electrical-environmental journeyman for the 123rd Maintenance Squadron. His responsibilities include inspecting, modifying, testing, servicing, troubleshooting, isolating malfunctions and repairing the aircraft electrical and environmental systems, as well as supporting aircraft generation at home and abroad. Hildesheim became the first Airman in the KyANG electric shop to support five different temporary duties while completing five-level upgrade training.

He served for more than 210 days on orders during his first year of service, of which 33 days were performed abroad in support of Operations Sabre Junction and Mangusta19.

Hildesheim initiated a monthly in-shop support equipment inspection program, minimizing equipment inoperability. Additionally, he identified and replaced a defective oxygen valve on a C-130 aircraft, ensuring aircrew safety.

According to Master Sgt. Patrick Howard, 123rd Maintenance Group electrical-environmental shop supervisor, Hildesheim’s first year of duty has shattered all training and mission expectations, and he has become a leader amongst his peers, raising the standard for the entire squadron.

“He’s an exemplary Airman,” Howard said. “He’s prompt, respectful, mature, an excellent communicator and a real go-getter. I look forward to continuing to work with him, and I hope his career continues to elevate and he keeps driving forward like he’s been doing. There’s no doubt that he’s going to succeed.”

Morris, winner of the Non-Commissioned Officer category, is a command and control craftsman for the 123rd Airlift Wing. As a C2 controller, Morris performs activities within command posts and operations centers, providing communications and informational support. In 2016, she was offered the opportunity to work as an airfield management controller, developing a deeper knowledge and skillset for aircraft mission C2. Following this tour, she worked as the single C2 controller for the mission, executing C2 operations with zero discrepancies and providing continual situational reporting.

In her current position, she works as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of training, ensuring all controllers within the 123rd command and control operations center are trained and prepared to deploy on a moment’s notice.

In the last year, she prepared eight Airmen for a mobility exercise, resulting in a deployment with zero deficiencies. Additionally, her attention to detail led to her detecting a security clearance discrepancy before a deployment, preventing a security clearance expiration downrange. She single-handedly created integration checklists for new Airmen, resulting in greater in-process and training efficiencies.

Morris is also a member of the 123rd Honor Guard where she renders military honors to fallen Airmen. She graduated with honors from the University of Louisville with a bachelor of science in Nursing in December 2019.

“She is assertive, intelligent, she has a sparkling personality that is easy to work with, and she’s just an all-around terrific human being in my estimation,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Skeens, superintendent of command and control operations for the 123rd Airlift Wing and Morris’ supervisor. “It makes me immensely prideful to see her stand up there. She’s the cream of the crop. She goes above and beyond every day, and she never backs away from a challenge.”

Freese, winner of the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer category, is the air terminal operations center and load planning supervisor for the 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, providing leadership and expertise to Airmen in this duty section. Additionally, Freese is a member of the 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron’s Top 3 committee. Freese’s career spans more than 24 years and began as an armament systems specialist on active duty.

He has deployed in support of numerous training exercises, domestic operations and contingencies including Operations Provide Comfort, Southern Watch and Enduring Freedom, as well as in support of relief efforts for Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. In 2019, Freese served as an air transportation functional manager at the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, serving all Air National Guard units.

Freese spearheaded a 1,900-page, 24-volume Air Force Instruction rewrite, providing guidance for the 11,000 members of the air transportation Total Force. He executed a National Guard and Reserve equipment account, sourcing 197 domestic operations’ log support equipment items and enhancing capabilities at 31 locations.

“You have a proactive Airman that is working through every detail of every mission that they’re sending out and solving problems without elevating them up to leadership unless they absolutely have to,” said Chief Master Sgt. Larry Burba, chief enlisted manager for the 123rd Force Support Squadron and Freese’s former supervisor.

“He has the ability to remain calm while in the fire,” Burba continued. “When things get stressful, when things take a turn for the worse, he has the ability to remain calm and clearly think through the problems and, at a minimum, define a few courses of action for leadership.”