AFGSC Outstanding Airman of the Year visits Whiteman

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The 2012 Air Force Global Strike Command Outstanding Airman of the Year visited Whiteman Sept. 25-26 to interact with Airmen and hear their thoughts on improving the Air Force.

Senior Airman Bryenna Breckheimer visited squadrons within the 509th Bomb Wing to gather information on improving Airmens' work environments, careers and the base itself.

Breckheimer said she was impressed with her visit to Whiteman.

"It was fascinating to see the B-2 Spirit and explore the many shops at Whiteman," said Breckheimer. "Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly, and the morale seems to be great. I'm really excited to be joining the 509th Medical Group in November; it's a team I look forward to being a part of."

Along with receiving in-depth tours and communicating with Airmen around the base, there are numerous challenges that come with being the Outstanding Airman of the Year.

"The most challenging part is not having served very much time in the Air Force, but it was also rewarding because I learned a lot while being an OAY," said Breckheimer. "My role was to listen and gather all the concerns Whiteman Airmen had to share, and to represent the Air Force in a professional way."

Many Whiteman Airmen presented a wide variety of concerns and questions to Breckheimer, touching on issues ranging from enlisted performance ratings to out-processing.

Breckheimer said the more persistent Airmen are about their concerns, the more likely it is things will eventually change for the better.

Her time at Whiteman has left a lasting impression on the Airmen here, said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Umfleet, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent.

"Breckheimer is extremely humble and that is a leadership trait I admire greatly," said Umfleet. "An award of this magnitude can go to a person's head, but she's using this as a stepping stone not for herself, but to help change the Air Force for the better."

The Outstanding Airman of the Year program awards 12 enlisted Airmen this honor every year, and recognizes a cross-section of Air Force career fields. Nominated personnel compete in one of three categories: Airman, NCO or senior NCO. Nominations are based only on the member's performance and achievement for the prior calendar year. Although only the prior year is used for nominations, nominees must also pass a certain level of scrutiny of their total life and career, as they are expected to be the most outstanding representatives of the Air Force enlisted group.

Being chosen as an OAY is no easy task. Breckheimer recently deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, where she was attached to the 101st Sustainment Brigade in a joint-service effort of Operation Enduring Freedom. During her deployment, she provided direct medical support to the unit at Bagram, as well as 13 forward-deployed locations. During this time, she traveled more than 3,000 miles as a convoy medic, provided 24-hour care to more than 1,000 personnel, and served as the lifeline during 25 successful missions.

Breckheimer also received the Purple Heart for injuries she sustained during a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Despite being wounded herself, she helped treat fellow members of her team, saving the lives of four injured comrades.

Aside from her breadth of medical experience, she has provided mentorship, both in the local and foreign community. She also volunteered to fill sandbags to reinforce a weakened levy, served as a Starbase Youth Mentor for more than 30 children, and was an honored recipient of Operation Fan Mail during the NFL opening day kickoff. While at her deployed location, she dedicated more than 80 hours toward Troop Medical Clinic expansion, educated more than 250 Afghans on sanitation and hygiene efforts, and tested 200 blood units for the critical blood bank at Afghan National Army Hospital.