Grissom has a Ball, recognizes annual award winners

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Rachel Barton
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing

The 434th Air Refueling Wing and Grissom Air Reserve Base has a lot to celebrate, and on February 4, 2023 they did!

The 434th ARW held an 80th Anniversary Ball and annual awards ceremony. It was an opportunity to reflect on both the base and wing’s history, recognize the outstanding accomplishments of 434th ARW members and have a little fun in the process.

During the banquet, the wing held a guidon streamer pinning ceremony. The war service streamers attached to the flags and guidons are the Air Force’s way of recognizing units that deploy aircraft and Airmen in support of a campaign.

With guidon bearers from each squadron standing at attention around the room. Col. Thom Pemberton, 434th ARW commander, placed the Global War on Terror service streamer on the wing flag held by 434th ARW Command Chief Brian Jensenius. Following Pemberton’s command, identical GWOT streamers were pinned to each squadron’s guidon.

“The 80th Anniversary Ball was truly memorable,” Pemberton said. “Seeing everyone in their formal attire, smiling and laughing and enjoying the camaraderie was excellent to see.  It's something we needed after going through the challenges these past few years.”

The next order of business was to recognize outstanding personnel of the wing for the year 2022. Pemberton and Jensenius, presented trophies to each winner as they were called up to the stage.

The winners of the following categories were:

Airman of the Year

Senior Airman Malachi Clelland-Sewell, Aerospace Medicine Squadron

Non-commissioned Officer of the Year

Staff Sgt. Derrek Stephens, 434th Security Forces Squadron

Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the Year

Master Sgt. Kerry Tromba, 434th Force Support Squadron

First Sergeant of the Year

 Master Sgt. Benjamin Mota, 434th Air Refueling Wing/434th Security Forces Squadron

Company Grade Officer of the Year

Capt. Jeffrey Murr, 49th Aerial Port Flight

Field Grade Officer of the Year

Maj. Jonathon Hoover, 434th Judge Advocate

Civilian Non-Supervisor of the Year

Natalie Jack, 434th Mission Support Group

Civilian Supervisor of the Year

Ben Bond, 434th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

“It was wonderful to see the annual award winners as they represent the best of Grissom,” Pemberton said.  “They set the bar high for their peers to follow.”

The festivities continued as the evening progressed. The 434th ARW and Grissom Air Reserve Base celebrate their 80th Anniversaries this year. Both the wing and the base trace their beginnings back to the year 1943. In honor of the occasion, Airman 1st Class Justin Rowland from the 49th Aerial Port Flight, and Lt. Col Kelli Bermudez, 434th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Commander, cut the first slice of cake. It is an Air Force tradition for the youngest and eldest members to cut the first slice of cake together.

Guests at the event closed out the evening with music and dancing.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.