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Paul, Jewell, Howard named top troops in KYANG

Staff Sgt. Zachary Paul of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron has been selected as the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 2015 Airman of the Year. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Staff Sgt. Zachary Paul of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron has been selected as the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 2015 Airman of the Year. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Jewell of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron has been selected as the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 2015 Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Jewell of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron has been selected as the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 2015 Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Master Sgt. Gregory Howard of the 123rd Maintenance Squadron has been selected as the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 2015 Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Master Sgt. Gregory Howard of the 123rd Maintenance Squadron has been selected as the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 2015 Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Staff Sgt. Zachary Paul, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Jewell and Master Sgt. Gregory Howard will be honored at a banquet in Louisville March 5 as the Kentucky Air National Guard's Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2015.

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.

Paul, the winner of the Airman category, is a pararescueman in the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron. In the past year, he has used his life-saving skills in the remote jungles of Thailand and provided essential medical care to more than 300 patients. Additionally, Paul acted as the lead combat search-and-rescue instructor during a Joint Combined Exchange Training exercise. He was also instrumental in the planning of a multi-national pararescue exercise, which led to the first ever-combat search-and-rescue course for Jordanian military forces.

"Staff Sgt. Paul is an outstanding Airman with incredible potential," said his supervisor, Tech Sgt. Adam Becker. "One of the attributes that sets him apart is his unorthodox approach to solutions and his ability to think outside of the box. That attribute among others, combined with his dedication to perfecting his technical skills, are what makes Staff Sgt. Paul such a powerful force multiplier to the 123rd STS."

Jewell, the winner of the Non-Commissioned Officer category, is a combat controller in the 123rd STS. In the past two years, Jewell has deployed multiple times, earning two Bronze Star Medals and an Air Medal, said his supervisor, Master Sgt. Robert Fernandez. He has completed 160 days of duty overseas in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, conducted 12 high-risk Special Operations missions, trained more than 20 Iraqi soldiers, planned and led seven training events, and controlled 18 combat sorties.

"What really sets Nick apart is his selflessness," Fernandez said. "He is always thinking of the team and other people, putting them first, and always looking to lend a hand. The Air Force and Kentucky Air National Guard are truly lucky to have Staff Sgt. Jewell in their ranks. His career path is limitless, and I suspect this won't be the last time we hear about his accomplishments."

Howard, the winner of the Senior NCO category, is a production superintendent in the 123rd Maintenance Squadron. Howard's engaged hands-on leadership style resulted in a 90.93 percent fully mission-capable rate for 123rd Airlift Wing C-130 aircraft during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015, the highest across the entire Air National Guard. He also deployed to Southwest Asia last year, where his unit safely executed 1,511 sorties and 47,000 mission-capable flight hours.

"Master Sgt. Howard shows integrity every day at work by always putting his best effort into the mission, but he's also a leader outside of work by making the right decisions for his wife and kids," said his supervisor, Senior Master Sgt. Chad Chamberlain.