By Staff Sgt. Chloe Ochs, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 17, 2021
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Staff Sgt. Harrison Jenkins, Master Sgt. Jacob Blevins and Master Sgt. Duane Wariner have been selected as the Kentucky Air National Guard’s Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2021.
“During a highly stressful year, the Airmen of the 123rd truly put their amazing character, determination and professionalism on display for the world to see,” said Chief Master Sgt. Shane Lagrone, 123rd Airlift Wing command chief. “The Outstanding Airmen of the Year competition is extremely competitive, but the winners stand out above the rest based on their leadership, job performance and qualities of the ‘Whole Airman Concept.’ We are extremely proud of our Airmen and honored to recognize them for all they do for our state and country.”
Jenkins, the winner in the Airman category, is an intelligence analyst for the 123rd Operations Support Squadron. His responsibilities include researching, analyzing and disseminating real-time intelligence data sets at home and abroad.
As the newly appointed intelligence materials reference manager for the 123rd OSS, Jenkins maintained 100 percent accountability of all hard copy classified reference materials over a two-year period. He also deployed for more than 120 days to southwest Asia last year in support of Operations Inherent Resolve, Freedom’s Sentinel and Renewal of Hope, supporting intelligence requirements, flying operations and other mission sets while working with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Joint Tactical Air Control Center.
During the deployment, Jenkins identified a real-time foreign terror attack and promptly reported the incident to his chain of command and the U.S. Consulate, increasing the safety posture of both the deployed unit and civilians in the surrounding area. This accomplishment, along with many others, earned Jenkins the Unsung Warrior Award for proving himself to be an exceptional asset to his deployed unit, the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing.
Jenkins, an honor graduate from Basic Military Training, also excelled in the Advanced Air Mobility Intelligence Course, a multinational exercise focused on integrating and training a partner nation aircrew in tactical exploitation of the battlefield. In the civilian world, he is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biblical and theological studies at Boyce College.
According to Jenkins’ supervisor, Master Sgt. Braden Sikkema, Jenkins is the embodiment of military leadership, consistently maintaining a posture of unmatched integrity.
“Staff Sgt. Jenkins’ dedication to the betterment of himself and those within his influence shows unmistakable resolve and constitution,” said Sikkema, intelligence superintendent for the 123rd OSS. “A manifestation of leadership as an action, not a position, Jenkins meets each challenge with vigor, often identifying characteristics in himself that embolden others — traits that inspire potential.”
Blevins, the winner in the Non-Commissioned Officer category, is an aerospace medical technician with the 123rd Medical Group, Detachment 1. In this role, he serves with the Kentucky National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, providing support as a member of the search and extraction team. He also is an acting supervisor and mentor to his peers and fellow Airmen.
In 2020, Blevins served on four different COVID-19 missions, resulting in a safer, better-prepared wing and state, according to his supervisor, Capt. Derek Roberts. During this time, Blevins was activated to establish an alternate medical care facility at the state fairgrounds, helping set up more than 800 beds for COVID-19 patient overflow. He further proved to be instrumental throughout the pandemic by developing a streamlined COVID-19 testing process.
Roberts said Blevins, a registered nurse, was one of the first Airmen to volunteer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He’s a great leader who always stands for the mission,” said Roberts, a physician’s assistant with the 123rd Medical Group, Detachment 1. “Master Sgt. Blevins is always working in hospitals and staying strong both in and out of uniform. He also excels at taking care of his troops, resolving their issues and fighting for their overall well-being. I appreciate all he has to contribute to our team.”
Wariner, the winner in the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer category, is currently serving as superintendent of the 123rd Airlift Wing’s Inspector General Office, where he develops critical exercise scenarios and conducts unit evaluations. Prior to this, he served as superintendent of the Logistics Plans and Integration Section of the 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, assisting with the creation of curriculum for Logistics Readiness University, an effort that supports logistics planners in eight different states and advises leadership to incorporate logistics procedures and policies that help ensure mission success. Additionally, Wariner serves as the dedicated focal point for all wing readiness, adaptive planning, war reserve materiel, support agreements, deployment processes and logistics command and control functions.
He has deployed in support of numerous training exercises, domestic operations and contingencies including Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve, United Assistance and Juniper Micron. In 2020, Wariner served as the superintendent of wing plans and programs for U.S. Air Forces Africa at the 435th Air Expeditionary Wing in Ramstein, Germany, analyzing deployment tracking and securing 24 different airlift missions, enabling seamless turnover for the 435th. For his outstanding efforts, Wariner was designated the 2020 Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Deployment.
Wariner also executed short-notice transfer plans for several units in 2020, including the 303rd Expeditionary Readiness Squadron, for which he spearheaded the transfer of 648 passengers and 236 short tons of cargo, assuring success of the casualty-evacuation mission.
According to his supervisor, Lt. Col. Jerry Zollman, Wariner’s strength of character and superior performance make him an invaluable asset to the wing.
“Master Sgt. Duane Wariner brings a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience to the 123d Airlift Wing,” said Zollman, the wing’s inspector general. “His previous experience as the 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent of the Plans and Integration Section prepared him well to assume the role of inspector general superintendent.
“His knowledge of how current operations and contingency plans relate to our mission-essential tasks list is invaluable,” Zollman continued. “He is a seasoned Senior Non-Commissioned Officer with the ability to operate at the executive level. I have the utmost confidence he will continue to exceed all established expectations.”