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Medical officers named top in the Air National Guard

(from left) Maj. Chris Howell and Maj. Carolyn Congleton flank Col. Diana Shoop, 123rd Medical Squadron commander, in Minneapolis where they were recognized as the top medical officers in thier respective fields.  Major Howell was named the Air National Guard Phsician Assistant of the yearh and Major Congleton was named the ANG Public Health Officer of the year. Both were recognized for additional service outside of their standard job duties. (Courtesy photo)

(from left) Maj. Chris Howell and Maj. Carolyn Congleton flank Col. Diana Shoop, 123rd Medical Squadron commander, in Minneapolis where they were recognized as the top medical officers in thier respective fields. Major Howell was named the Air National Guard Phsician Assistant of the yearh and Major Congleton was named the ANG Public Health Officer of the year. Both were recognized for additional service outside of their standard job duties. (Courtesy photo)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The 123rd Medical Squadron was honored recently at the Medical Readiness Frontiers Conference in Minneapolis when two of its own were named the top in their field Air National Guard-wide.

Maj. Carolyn Congleton was named the ANG Public Health Officer of the Year and Maj. Chris Howell was named the ANG Physician Assistant of the Year, both for their service in 2009.

"It's a great honor. There are a lot of tremendous medical officers in the Air National Guard and to be named among the top is humbling," said Major Howell after receiving the award.

"I was surprised; shocked, in fact. We're a very busy Wing. We deploy a lot. The numbers we turn over and deploy constantly makes a difference. But there was a lot that went into the award," said Major Congleton. "I'm grateful to be in a position to serve my community, my state and the country, but getting an award for it was a surprise."

The majors both credit their work above and beyond the call of duty.

Major Congleton is responsible for helping deploy every member of the 123rd Airlift Wing. She makes sure members of some of the busiest units in the Reserve component, like the 123d Contingency Response Group, have all the shots and are medically prepared for what lies ahead of them when they ship out and facilitates post-deployment screenings when they return home.

She handles occupational health exams for firefighters and monitors exposures on base and at deployed locations. She inspects all food and even military rations consumed by unit personnel. Her award recognized her role in the community in addition to her military service. The major, who is the staff veterinarian for Louisville Metro Animal Services, was noted for speaking before a national convention of her civilian peers and caring for 550 animals who were displaced during a flash flood on Aug. 4, 2009.

Major Howell said his leadership above and beyond the call of duty contributed to his honor. A patient safety manager for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Lexington, he was the only health care provider deployed for the historic ice storms. The former enlisted Army National Guardsman maintains a top physical fitness test score and serves as health promotions officer helping wing members improve their lifestyles and physical readiness.

"I believe that if you are an officer you need to lead from the front," said the Hodgenveille native who gives classes and lectures medics whenever possible. "Leadership is really what makes an organization do well, especially in a medical setting."

"I'm profoundly grateful for the display of professionalism and positive attitude that won both of them this recognition," said Col. Bill Ketterer, interim 123rd Airlift Wing Commander. "Our readiness and ability to serve our state and nation defines us as an organization. Their award-worthy efforts ensure we maintain our edge as fighting Kentuckians."