Local airmen earn top honors

A member of the Iowa Air National Guard unit in Fort Dodge has been named the top airman in the state.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Nichols was named the Airman of the Year and received the Iowa Meritorious Service Medal during a recent ceremony held at the headquarters of the 133rd Test Squadron.

Nichols was also presented the Camp Cup, an honor that Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, the state’s adjutant general, said dates back to the Revolutionary War. Orr said George Washington gave Camp Cups to soldiers who played important roles in defeating the Hessians at Trenton, N.J., on Christmas Day in 1776.

Nichols, a cybersecurity helper, was one of several squadron members who received awards or promotions from Orr during a ceremony that followed the ribbon cutting and rededication of the squadron’s compound near Fort Dodge Regional Airport Sunday.

Orr said he regularly presents medals to Iowa National Guard members, but rarely hands out as many honors as he did during his visit to the local squadron.

”I don’t give this number of impact awards as I did this morning,” he said.

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Steffes was among the airmen who was honored. He received the Meritorious Service Medal for his efforts at Balad Air Base, Iraq, where he worked to improve air surveillance, battle management and air control superiority. He was also recognized for coordinating tests on $48 million worth of equipment.

Master Sgt. Jeffery Sloan received the Air Force Commendation Medal for his work on cybersupport.

Master Sgt. Clayton Mackie received the Air Force Commendation Medal for his work in radar maintenance.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Ratcliff received the Air Force Commendation Medal for creating a training program and supervising satellite communications.

Master Sgt. David McGaughy was recognized as the Air National Guard’s top recruiting and retention non-commissioned officer in the nation. He is entitled to wear the Recruiting and Retention Gold Badge for the rest of his career.

Capt. Kenneth Bahr received the Air Battle Manager of the Year Award.

Capt. Crystal McKinney was recognized for completing the United States Air Force Weapons School. She is the first person in the 65-year history of the squadron to complete that course.

Staff Sgt. Tracy Roberts received the Command and Control Battle Management Operator of the Year Award.

Senior Airman Randy Meyer received the Air Force Association’s George W. Bush Award for his overall contributions to the squadron’s mission.

Master Sgt. Zac Heck was honored for outstanding test mission support.

Kevin Cramp and Kevin Traeger were promoted from technical sergeant to master sergeant.