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Leaders stress importance of Airmen, families to 157's success

Senior leaders of the New Hampshire Air National Guard prepare to present awards to airmen during an annual awards ceremony which highlights the top airmen from the wing, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014.  Onstage to present the awards are (from left) Tech Sgt. Kimbery Comstock, N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, U.S. Senator Kelley Ayotte, N.H. Adjutant General Maj. Gen. William N. Reddel, State Command Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Collier, N.H. Air National Guard Commander Brig. Gen. Carolyn Protzmann, 157th Air Refueling Wing Commander Shawn Burrus, Wing Command Master Sgt. James Lawrence, and Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Inferrere. (Air National Guard photot by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

Senior leaders of the New Hampshire Air National Guard prepare to present awards to airmen during an annual awards ceremony which highlights the top airmen from the wing, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. Onstage to present the awards are (from left) Tech Sgt. Kimbery Comstock, N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, U.S. Senator Kelley Ayotte, N.H. Adjutant General Maj. Gen. William N. Reddel, State Command Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Collier, N.H. Air National Guard Commander Brig. Gen. Carolyn Protzmann, 157th Air Refueling Wing Commander Shawn Burrus, Wing Command Master Sgt. James Lawrence, and Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Inferrere. (Air National Guard photot by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

Senior Airman Andrew Norton with the 157th Logistics Readiness Squadron is presented the 157th Air Refueling Wing's Airman of the Year award by N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

Senior Airman Andrew Norton with the 157th Logistics Readiness Squadron is presented the 157th Air Refueling Wing's Airman of the Year award by N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

Master Sgt. Jeremy Hutchinson with the 157th Mission Support Group is presented the 157th Air Refueling Wing's 1st Sgt. of the Year award by N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

Master Sgt. Jeremy Hutchinson with the 157th Mission Support Group is presented the 157th Air Refueling Wing's 1st Sgt. of the Year award by N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

2nd Lt. Melinda Fuller with the 157th Maintenance Group is presented the 157th Air Refueling Wing's Company Grade Officer of the Year award by N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

2nd Lt. Melinda Fuller with the 157th Maintenance Group is presented the 157th Air Refueling Wing's Company Grade Officer of the Year award by N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

Tech Sgt. Geoffrey Schultz with the 64th Air Refueling Squadron is presented the 157th Air Refueling Wing's Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year award by N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

Tech Sgt. Geoffrey Schultz with the 64th Air Refueling Squadron is presented the 157th Air Refueling Wing's Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year award by N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

Master Sgt. Jason Veziris with the 157th Operations Squadron is presented the 157th Air Refueling Wing's Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year award by N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

Master Sgt. Jason Veziris with the 157th Operations Squadron is presented the 157th Air Refueling Wing's Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year award by N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Dec 7, 2014. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz/Released)

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- In a year focused on acquisition of the KC-46A tanker, Gov. Maggie Hassan and military leaders reminded Airmen and their families the vital role people play in achieving the mission during the 157th Air Refueling Wing commanders call here Dec. 7.

Making her second consecutive appearance at the event, Hassan congratulated the wing for receiving the KC-46A and praised Airmen for their accomplishments in the previous year. 

"Your hard work and devotion to our nation's defense distinguishes you as one of the most accomplished air refueling wings in the country," said Hassan. "I couldn't be prouder to be your commander-in-chief. Citizens of the Granite State and your governor are proud of you."

N.H. Air National Guard Commander Brig. Gen, Carolyn Protzmann echoed the sentiment and recognized the vital role family members also play in the success of the wing.

"Thank your families for enduring this sacrifice with us," she said. "We cannot do what we do without every member and their family on board ... we should be very proud and feel good about our accomplishments we continue to make for our communities, for our state and for this great nation."

In his first commander's call, newly minted 157 ARW Commander Col. Rob Burrus credited Airmen from all corners of the base for the recent successes and the need for all to meet the upcoming challenges of higher operation tempos and preparing to receive the KC-46A.

"I find energy and strength amongst you," said Burrus. "I look forward to serving with you."

Earlier, in a more somber moment, 157 ARW Command Chief Master Sgt. Jamie Lawrence remembered fallen Master Sgt. David Poirier, who died Feb. 28 from a noncombat-related incident during a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Without a doubt, our single greatest accomplishment in 2014, our finest hour, was the way in which we honored our fallen comrade," said Lawrence. "We all came together as a Guard family, as a wing, and as a state, to assist David's Family and to perform the most sacred of military honors."

On March 8, Pease Air National Guard Base conducted an Honorable Transfer of Poirier when his body arrived at Pease prior to his military burial honors at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery March 10.

The Adjutant General Maj. Gen. William N. Reddel III reminded the audience that the New Hampshire National Guard has been called out for domestic emergencies every year since 1995. He played a video displaying the efforts of New Hampshire guardsmen across the nation and abroad, and highlighting the state partnership program with El Salvador.

"Thank you to the members in blue, you make me proud," said Reddel.

The wing wide award winners were also announced during the event. Hassan presented plaques to the winners, which included Company Grade Officer of the Year: 2nd Lt. Melinda A. Fuller; Senior NCO of the Year: Master Sgt. Jason P. Veziris; NCO of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Geoffrey R. Schultz; Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Andrew G. Norton; First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. Jeremy D. Hutchinson; and Spirit of Hope Award: Staff Sgt. Phillip I. Carter.
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