Team Vance earns AFA Military Unit of the Year

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. James Bolinger
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 71st Flying Training Wing earned Military Unit of the Year honors from the Oklahoma State Air Force Association for 2017 recently.

Col. Darrel Judy, the 71st Flying Training Wing commander, accepted the award on behalf of the wing during an awards banquet June 24 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“I'd like to extend a huge congratulations to the entire wing for the 71st FTW being named the Air Force Association's 2017 Oklahoma Military Unit of the year,” wrote Col. Darrel Judy, in an email to the base. “This is a well-deserved honor that each and every one of our team members played an integral role in. Everyone should be rightfully proud of this recognition.”

Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, the Air Education and Training Command commander, was on hand to present the awards, several of which were claimed by Team Vance and the base’s partner -- Enid Oklahoma. 

“I think that this is merely another demonstration of the close partnership enjoyed between the Enid community and Vance,” said retired Col. Dan Ohnesorge, the AFA Chapter 214 president, in an email interview.

Besides winning unit of the year, Team Vance earned the following honors:

Hourly Contract Employee of the Year – Roger Betz, 71st Installation Support Squadron
Billy Bowden Award – George Pankonin, 71st Flying Training Wing

The city of Enid earned several awards:

ROTC Detachment of the Year: Air Force ROTC Detachment 670, Oklahoma State University
Junior ROTC Unit of the Year: Enid High School Air Force Junior ROTC
Civil Air Patrol Unit of the Year: Enid Composite Squadron
Person of the Year: Dan Ohnesorge
Teacher of the Year: Dan Hugaboom

The third person to the receive the Billy Bowden Award, retired Maj. George Pankonin, the director of the Vance Retiree Activities Office, said in an email interview, “It was an honor to receive an award named in honor of my longtime friend and Air Force Association mentor General Billy Bowden. General Bowden guided me through the years on how I could continue to serve the nation and support a strong national defense by being active in the AFA.

“Receiving the award from General Bowden and General Roberson is a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” he said.

The Billy Bowden award is the highest honor presented by the Oklahoma State AFA. It is awarded for five years of significant support to the AFA, but up to this point recipients have averaged 20 years of service at all levels of the AFA including holding positions on the AFA national and state boards.