by Senior Airman Clay Murray
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/1/2011 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The Air Force is widely recognized by its unique assets - the aircraft the Air Force uses to support its many missions. In turn, the organization goes lengths to recognize its Airmen that make so much happen.
Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, 81st Aircraft Maintenance Unit A-10 Thunderbolt II dedicated crew chief, is one of the many Airmen being recognized for his contributions.
In his first successful bid for an Air Force award, Sergeant Williams was awarded the base-level crew chief award in November 2010. From there, his award package was elevated to the major command level at U.S. Air Forces in Europe. On Jan. 24 he was notified of his selection as a major command winner.
"I just found out from our AMXS commander that I won for USAFE," Sergeant Williams said. "I was on the flightline, and my captain said she wanted to see me in her office - I was in my coveralls and pretty dirty. The 52nd AMXS commander asked me about an aircraft - he asked me if I had worked on it. I said, 'No, we haven't had a chance to troubleshoot.' He said to me, 'Well that's not something I want to hear from the USAFE crew chief of the year!'"
As is evident with many other award winners, the final selection was a gratifying moment for Sergeant Williams.
"It made me feel stellar," Sergeant Williams said. "It's not very often that you see an A-10 crew chief win at a major command level. We know it's very rare, and I've been around A-10s for a long time. The last person I know who won something this major was one of my mentors. He won the Air Combat Command crew chief of the year. I called him on the phone that night when I got home to tell him that I'm up at his level now."
The natural progression of the award for any winning Airmen at this level is for the Air Force level award to shift into the crosshairs.
"I would love to win for the Air Force level," Sergeant Williams said. "Next, I'm going against everyone - I'll compete against every crew chief in the Air Force. Honestly, I didn't think I was going to win the base-level, but the guys who wrote the package for me and the guys in my flight did. A few people had their hand in writing my package, and that always helps. I think I've got a shot [at the AF level]. If not, then I was happy to have made it where I am now - winning a major command level."
In regard to the support of the base, his squadron and his AMU, Sergeant Williams' thoughts shifted back to his unit and the 12 years he has been in the Air Force.
"I'm really at a loss for words," he said. "I have worked hard for many years and being selected for this - I can't even explain it. It's something that I can't put in words. My wife is saying the same thing - that I've worked so hard all these years, that I've finally won something at this level is just beyond me. I have nobody else to thank but all the guys I work with who help me to not mess up."
Sergeant Williams began his Air Force career in 1999 when he was stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. From there he went to Osan Air Base, South Korea, and then to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. He went back to Osan AB for another short tour before coming to Spangdahlem Air Base in December of 2008.
Sergeant Williams has focused on the A-10 for his entire career, apart from the assignment at Nellis AFB where he worked inspections on A-10s as well as F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons.
"I've had the luxury and the privilege of staying on one airframe my entire career," Sergeant Williams said. "A lot of people don't do that. They could spend one or ten years on one airframe, and suddenly they're moving to another airframe. It's like starting all over from scratch."
Maintenance is a field he has always found interesting, so making a move into Air Force maintenance was a logical step, he said.
"I've always worked on cars and that stuff with my dad," said Sergeant Williams. "I worked at an Exxon service station when I was in high school doing minor engine mechanics like fixing tires."
Packages for competing Airmen are submitted before March 1, and the award winner attends the National Convention held in September in Washington, D.C., to officially receive the award. The winner's name is also added to the wall plaque displayed in the Pentagon.
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – Airmen from the 81st Fighter Squadron back an A-10 Thunderbolt II into a hardened aircraft shelter Jan. 28. Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, dedicated crew chief, right, was awarded the Chief Master Sgt. Thomas N. Barnes Award at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe level. This award recognizes the most outstanding crew chief in the major command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clay Murray) Hi-res
Note: Pictured is A-10C 81-0985.
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, 81st Fighter Squadron dedicated crew chief, prepares to help Airmen from his aircraft maintenance unit transport an A-10 Thunderbolt II from the Spangdahlem Air Base flightline to a hardened aircraft shelter Jan. 28. Sergeant Williams was awarded the Chief Master Sgt. Thomas N. Barnes Award at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe level. This award recognizes the most outstanding crew chief in the major command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clay Murray) Hi-res
Note: Pictured in the background is A-10C 81-0962.
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, 81st Fighter Squadron dedicated crew chief, inspects a tow hook before helping Airmen from his aircraft maintenance unit transport an A-10 Thunderbolt II to a hardened aircraft shelter Jan. 28. Sergeant Williams was awarded the Chief Master Sgt. Thomas N. Barnes Award at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe level. This award recognizes the most outstanding crew chief in the major command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clay Murray) Hi-res