For Immediate Release

Army Aviation Association of America Announces
CY 2017 National Award Winners

(MONROE, Conn., April 12, 2018) –The Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) has announced its Calendar Year 2017 National Award Winners. Winning units and individuals will be recognized at the AAAA Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit, held April 26-27, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. The AAAA Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit provides an opportunity for Association members to gather with government and industry representatives concerned with Army Aviation and participate in professional programs and exhibits.

 The first AAAA annual meeting was held in June 1959 and has taken place every year since then. In recent years, the sites have included Washington, D.C., Fort Worth, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee.

 National Award recipients to be recognized at the 2018 AAAA Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit include:

Joseph P. Cribbins Department of the Army Civilian of the Year
Sponsored by The Boeing Company
Dr. William D. Lewis
Aviation Development Directorate,
U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center
Redstone Arsenal, Alabama

This award is named for the award’s first recipient in 1976 and the acknowledged “Father of Army Aviation Logistics.” It is presented annually by AAAA to the DAC who has made an outstanding individual contribution to Army aviation in the awards period.

As the ADD Director, Dr. Bill Lewis is responsible for the planning and execution of the Army Aviation science and technology program with labs in Huntsville, AL; Fort Eustis, VA; and Moffett Field, CA. As a result of his leadership the NATO demonstration of technical solutions for the Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) – Mitigation challenge were completed. Conducted in Yuma, AZ; Manching, Germany, and Alpnach, Switzerland, the pilotage program demonstrations transformed DVE into a tactical advantage. Another achievement was the development of the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) demonstrator aircraft. JMR was the first new start rotorcraft development program in the Army since Comanche and Dr. Lewis led the organization from contract award to initiation of flight test. He also led the integration development and fielding of an aircraft survivability equipment system to defeat a new battlefield threat for a deploying combat aviation brigade in an unprecedented 18 months. He led the three Vertical Lift Research Centers of Excellence, the Aerospace group of The Technical Cooperative Program, an English-speaking countries research collaboration, and was the Army lead for the Aerospace portfolio in the DoD Community of Interest. His initiatives and efforts identify him as the 2017 Army Aviation Association of America Joseph P. Cribbins Department of the Army Civilian of the Year.

James H. McClellan Aviation Safety Award  
Sponsored by GE Aviation
SPC Nicklaus A. Black
Troop D, 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment
1st Air Cavalry Brigade
Fort Hood, Texas

This award, which is the oldest AAAA award, was provided in 1959 as an annual award by Senator John L. McClellan in memory of his son, an Army Aviator who had died in a 1958 civilian airplane accident.

SPC Nicklaus Black’s dedication to his job and the mission is unparalleled. In May 2017 he was tasked with conducting a preventative maintenance daily service on an AH-64E when he identified what he thought was a scissor assembly that was incorrectly installed. He informed his platoon sergeant of the suspected discrepancy on the aircraft and the platoon sergeant, relying on personal experience alone, determined that the scissor assembly was correctly installed. Not satisfied that there wasn’t a problem, SPC Black re-inspected the assembly utilizing the Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM). He determined that the secondary scissor of the scissor assembly had been incorrectly installed and, had the aircraft been flown with the improperly installed part, there was a potential for a catastrophic failure. He showed both his platoon sergeant and quality control NCO the requirements in the IETM and both leaders determined that there was indeed a significant maintenance deficiency. SPC Black’s attention to detail and perseverance certainly saved the lives of two aviators, prevented the loss of an aircraft, and clearly identify him as the winner of the 2017 Army Aviation Association of America James H. McClellan Aviation Safety Award.

Army Aviation Soldier of the Year  
Sponsored by Bell
SPC Madeleine R. Rampona
Company A, 224th Military Intelligence Battalion
Hunter Army Air Field, Georgia

SPC Madeleine Rampona has distinguished herself during her three short years of service in the U.S. Army. She has achieved the status of a fully qualified aerial sensor operator (ASO) and flight instructor (FI) for the Army’s newest aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platform, the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System (EMARSS) aircraft. SPC Rampona quickly mastered all required training of an ASO which enabled her to effortlessly assume duties as an FI. She has continually outperformed both her peers and those senior to her and has been indispensable in the training of new ASOs and the fielding of the newest EMARSS model aircraft. Her expertise on multiple versions of the aircraft allowed her to quickly learn the newest model, and in turn, teach other Soldiers and ASOs in the unit. She leveraged her unparalleled knowledge of Military Intelligence and aircraft full motion video systems, by providing outstanding support during her deployment to SOUTHCOM and stateside training events. Her attention to detail resulted in meticulously maintained flight records of the other non-rated crewmembers in Alpha Company. SPC Rampona demonstrates unlimited potential for success in the future and is most deserving of recognition as the 2017 Army Aviation Association of America Soldier of the Year.

Henry Q. Dunn Crew Chief of the Year
Sponsored by Robertson Fuel Systems, L.L.C.
SPC Jacob M. Ramsey
Company B, 4th Battalion,  
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

Established in 2005, this award is named for Sergeant Major Henry Q. Dunn who was the first crew chief of the Army’s Executive Flight Detachment for President Eisenhower in 1957 and one of the first E-9s in the U.S. Army.

SPC Jacob M. Ramsey has served Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) as an MH-47G fully mission qualified (FMQ) crew chief with distinction. His ability to follow established procedures, and react without delay, with complete disregard for his own wellbeing, played a crucial role in the life saving responses to emergencies which took place during both training and combat operations over the past year. During this award period, he has deployed once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, as well as being assigned to multiple training events throughout the continental United States. During these events, he consistently performed above his current rank and was often called upon to fulfill leadership positions. During combat operations in Afghanistan when his MH-47G Chinook helicopter crashed he led an effort to recover three severely injured crewmembers, ultimately saving their lives. This event and others solidified his reputation throughout the unit for technical and tactical mastery and a positive demeanor even when confronted with the direst of circumstances. SPC Ramsey is an example for all service members to emulate and is most deserving of recognition as the 2017 Army Aviation Association of America Henry Q. Dunn Crew Chief of the Year.

Rodney J.T. Yano Noncommissioned Officer of the Year
Sponsored by Lockheed Martin Corp.
SFC Brittany A. Barfield
Company D, 1st Battalion, 222nd Aviation Regiment
Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia

SFC Barfield has distinguished herself as an unparalleled leader among the best Advanced Individual Training platoon sergeants. She has demonstrated qualities most desired in a Soldier. Her ability not only to guide over 300 new Initial Entry Training Soldiers on a daily basis, but her accomplishment of receiving the General Douglas McArthur Award and Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) Noncommissioned Officer Academy (NCOA) Freddy Finch Leadership Award, some of the Army’s most decorated achievements, is rare. Her versatility and ability to rise to any occasion, has shown through in the difficult situations she has been placed in, earning the Safety Guardian Award. Her training and quick thinking was put to the ultimate test early one morning and her instinctual response to a potentially life threating medical situation involving a new Initial Entry Training student saved the Soldier’s life. SFC Barfield has proven herself in tough competitions such as the USAACE Platoon Sergeant of the year and Sergeant Audie Murphy Club board, to be an unrivalled NCO. Her actions and accomplishments are clearly worthy of emulation and identify her as the 2017 Army Aviation Association of America Rodney J.T. Yano Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Michael J. Novosel Army Aviator of the Year
Sponsored by Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company
CW3 Kristopher M. Bassett
Special Operations Advisor Team–Central, Special Mission Wing,
Special Operations Advisory Group
Kabul, Afghanistan

This award is named for Medal of Honor recipient Chief Warrant Officer Four Michael J. Novosel.

CW3 Kristopher Bassett’s leadership directly led to positive and measurable results for the Special Mission Wing (SMW) Special Operations Advisory Group (SOAG) and his Afghan partners. His focus on tactical aircrew development led to dramatic increases in tactical capability on the battlefield and operational interoperability with Afghan and U.S. ground Special Operations Forces formations. As an Mi-17 pilot he conducted Level 1 Train, Advise, and Assist (TAA) missions to the objective against aggressive Taliban, ISIS-K, and narco-terrorist targets. As an operations officer he conceived, planned, and executed multiple named training series including the premier aviation training program in southwest Asia, SMW’s GREEN PLATOON. During his time in Afghanistan, CW3 Bassett doubled Afghan pilot readiness, increased flight instructors (FI) by 46%, trained over 50 Afghan tactical air coordinators (ATACs), as well as served as the SMW SOAG’s SOAT-Central standardization pilot. His personal bravery was most evident in the aftermath of a downed Chinook, when his expert airmanship helped to deliver the quick reaction force and set the conditions for asset security and personnel recovery. CW3 Bassett’s achievements make him the clear choice for recognition as the 2017 Army Aviation Association of America Michael J. Novosel Aviator of the Year.

The Robert M. Leich Award  
Sponsored by Airbus
29th Combat Aviation Brigade, Maryland Army National Guard, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland  
Commander: COL Mark M. Beckler
Command Chief Warrant Officer: CW5 Albert B. Isennock
Senior NCO: CSM Steven T. McKenna

This award honors the memory of an Aviator from the Army's initial pilot training course in June 1942, and who served as our Association's first National President.  The award is given to a unit or an individual for sustained contributions to Army Aviation, or for a unique one-time outstanding performance.

The 29th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) deployment was a unique, one-time, outstanding performance. The unit supported Operation Spartan Shield (OSS) while simultaneously supporting Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). Comprised of Army National Guard, Active Army, Army Reserve, and Air Force weather units, 29th CAB mobilized and arrayed aviation forces in six countries to support two major operations, including one combat operation that enabled the Government of Iraq and the Syrian Defense Forces to gain control of key terrain. 29th CAB consisted of more than 2,200 personnel and over 120 rotary-wing, fixed-wing, and unmanned aircraft from more than 14 states and territories. The unit distinguished itself in exceptional meritorious wartime service from 12 April to 28 December 2017 by conducting combat aviation operations for Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF)-OIR in support of U.S., coalition, and partner forces while arrayed across multiple locations in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. For several months, some of the unit’s AH-64Es and associated personnel supported operations in Afghanistan. The 29th CAB’s resourcefulness and agility made it possible for CJTF-OIR to execute their “by, with, and through” approach and achieve victory over ISIS without degrading ARCENT’s strategic deterrence and partnership missions in Kuwait and throughout the region. The Soldiers of 29th CAB clearly earned the 2017 Army Aviation Association of America Robert M. Leich Award.

John J. Stanko, Jr. Army National Guard (ARNG) Aviation Unit of the Year
Sponsored by Honeywell International  
2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, Texas Army National Guard, Grand Prairie, Texas Commander: LTC Jeffrey E. Long
Senior NCO: CSM Michael R. Gordon, Jr.

This award is named for the acknowledged “Father of Army National Guard Aviation,” COL (Retired) John J. Stanko, Jr., and is presented annually to the Army National Guard aviation unit that has made an outstanding contribution to or innovation in the employment of Army Aviation.

2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion, Task Force Rough Riders achieved overwhelming success in an ever-changing mission in Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait during Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield. Organized with inorganic subordinate elements from across the nation to deploy forty-five aircraft (UH-60A/L/M, HH-60M, and CH-47F), eight companies, and 633 Soldiers comprised of ARNG units from nine states/territory (AR, MA, MD, MT, OK, OR, PR, TX and WI), the unit also assumed mission command for AH-64E Active Component units. Primary missions across twelve locations included; aerial and quick response forces (ARF/QRF), air mission requests (AMR), MEDEVAC, air traffic services (ATS), and air weapons team (AWT) strikes resulting in: 9,223.7 flight hours, 656 AMRs, 19 decisive operations, 4,931,000 pounds of cargo, 31,057 passengers, 1,148 distinguished visitors, 116 MEDEVAC missions, the first deployment of the Mobile Operating Tower System (MOTS), 7,616 ATS movements, the first multi-national ARF exercise with Iraqi Army Aviation, and several ARF/QRF responses. The battalion relocated MEDEVAC five times, accomplished 55% of phase maintenance organically, and executed 73% of the CAB's AMR and MEDEVAC missions utilizing 53% of the CAB's aircraft and 28% of the CAB’s personnel. TF Rough Riders earned recognition as the 2017 Army Aviation Association of America John J. Stanko Army National Guard Aviation Unit of the Year.

U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) Aviation Unit of the Year
Sponsored by Honeywell, Inc.  
5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia
Commander: LTC Matthew B. Hill
Senior NCO: CSM Charles A. Booth

As the largest aviation battalion in the Army, the 5-159th General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB), “Dragonmasters’,” workload, operational tempo and mission throughput is an impressive tale of unmatched support. In 2017, the Dragonmasters flew over 8,723 flight hours, supported over 145 external mission requests, recovered two units from Afghanistan, provided support to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and rescued one high-altitude climber in addition to many other operations. The Dragonmasters had two units deployed to Afghanistan under the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade in support of deliberate operations under Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) and train-assist-advise operations under Operation Resolute Support (ORS).  Over 70 deliberate air assaults were conducted, along with cordon and search, and recovery of high-value targets in conjunction with international NATO partners. In CONUS, external mission requests included customers such as: SEAL Team Two and Four, Special Boat Team 20 and 22, Marine Special Operations Command, First and Third Special Forces Group, 3/75th Rangers, Naval Special Warfare Training Command, XVIII Airborne Corps and many others. This wide variety of mission requests ensured that the Dragonmasters retained the highest level of proficiency in the most complex of operations. The Soldiers of the 5-159th GSAB have earned recognition as the 2017 Army Aviation Association of America U.S. Army Reserve Aviation Unit of the Year.

Active Aviation Unit of the Year
Sponsored by L3 Technologies
4th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
Commander: LTC Derek A. Smith
Senior NCO: CSM Steven J. Hartmann

4th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment formed the headquarters for Task Force Saber which consisted of three AH-64E flight troops with their organic Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), and an attachment of MEDEVAC, assault, and medium lift assets. TF Saber flew over 11,000 hours across all manned airframes with zero safety incidents and an operational readiness rate of over 90% in addition to over 11,000 unmanned aircraft hours. During 2017, the Squadron conducted over 1,600 engagements resulting in the removal of the equivalent of three enemy battalions of men and equipment from the battlefield and greatly contributed to the defeat of ISIS during the Battles for Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Additionally, TF Saber conducted over 2,400 air movements, emergency resupply missions, and VIP movements in addition to 77 MEDEVAC missions. Deploying with 467 Troopers, the Squadron was spread across seven different locations in four countries and simultaneously conducted operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (Iraq, Syria), Operation Spartan Shield (Kuwait), and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (Afghanistan). As the only active duty aviation task force in Iraq and Syria, TF Saber and its Troopers provided unfailing decisive combat power to the ground force commander earning recognition as the 2017 Army Aviation Association of America Active Aviation Unit of the Year.

Outstanding Aviation Unit of the Year
Sponsored by The Boeing Company
16th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Raptor, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington Commander: COL Matthew W. Braman
Command Chief Warrant Officer: CW5 James M. Hogg
Senior NCO: CSM Mark G. Brock

The multi-compo 16th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) spent 2017 as the only combat aviation brigade deployed in combat operations across the Middle East in two theaters of war. Attached to the Raptor Brigade in addition to its five organic units were active duty elements from the 4th CAB (AH-64D); CH-47F elements from the New York and Maryland Army National Guard; CH-47F and MEDEVAC assets from the Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Kansas Army Reserve and elements from the 29th CAB (MDARNG) attached to 4-6 CAV for their operations in Kuwait, Iraq, and Syria. Each of the five Aviation task forces conducted full spectrum aviation operations throughout the Middle East in support of Operations Freedom’s Sentinel, Resolute Support, Inherent Resolve, and Spartan Shield. Raptor Brigade crews and Soldiers fired nearly 500 Hellfire missiles and 30,000 rounds of 30mm across 39,000 hours flown in the most challenging terrain in the world, destroying hundreds of enemy insurgents, tactical infrastructure, and fighting positions. Supporting an OPTEMPO four times that of home-station, the Brigade executed 98 phase maintenance operations, repaired numerous aircraft due to battle damage (none lost to shoot-down), and never missed a launch. The Soldiers of the 16th CAB proudly served on the front lines in 2017 and their accomplishments identify them as the Army Aviation Association of America Outstanding Aviation Unit of the Year.

For more information, contact the AAAA National Office at (203) 268-2450 or