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Force support squadron chosen as "best in Reserve"

A league of their own

Staff Sgt. Carlos Guillen, food services specialist in the 919th Special Operations Force Support Squadron, serves Airmen from Duke Field lunch during a unit training assembly. The 919th SOFSS won five awards for organizational and individual excellence in the Air Force Reserve's 2018 Annual A1 Awards.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chelsie Taddonio)

DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- The 919th Special Operations Force Support Squadron was recognized for outstanding efforts in several fields during the Air Force Reserve Command's 2018 Annual A1 Awards.

The squadron won five awards, including the Maj. Gen. Eugene L. Eubank award for best FSS at a small installation, the best Airman and Family Readiness Flight, and three individual awards: Lt. Col. Kay Beigh, the 919th SOFSS commander, won the Lt. Gen. Norm Lezy Award, Ms. Jayleen Paul-Clemons received the Civilian Specialist/Program Manager of the Year award, and Ms. Larysa Greene was recognized as the Civilian Supervisor of the Year.

Three major themes ran throughout the unit's accomplishments: increasing readiness, impacting resiliency, and responding to those in need.

"The contributions from FSS are the backbone of readiness for each Airman," said Beigh. "Our efforts are tailored for each Citizen Air Commando to ensure they are available any time...any place."

The SOFSS synchronized pre-deployment training, greatly decreasing the amount of time necessary for members to complete their requirements and increasing the wing's overall readiness levels. They also piloted a joint operations training exercise, combining members from the 919th SOW with the Coast Guard in a field environment and providing lodging and meals for the eight-day period.

"Readiness starts with the FSS," said Lt. Col. Amber Hreczkosij, the 919th SOFSS operations officer. "You can't have a fully-qualified warfighter without FSS involvement."

Airman and Family Readiness also demonstrated their commitment to innovation by creating and improving several programs to enhance quality of life for the 919th SOW's Citizen Air Commandos.

"The Resiliency Support Team is unique to Duke ," said Kelly Ewert, director of Airman and Family Readiness. "It gives us a place to collaborate helping agency efforts and get instant feedback from wing leadership."

The 919th SOFSS went above and beyond for military families in another important way in 2018: responding to assist military families affected by Hurricane Michael. As a neighbor to Tyndall Air Force Base, the squadron flew into action to support displaced service members and their families, providing food, lodging, and office space, among other things.

"It was a total team effort to provide support to the 44th Fighter Group after Hurricane Michael," said Chief Master Sgt. Laurie Kent, the 919th SOFSS superintendent. "The 919th SOFSS came together as a team to help lift up another reserve wing; they epitomized the Air Force core values."

Members from the 919th SOFSS manned the Tyndall Reception Center and, over the course of 10 days, accepted 758 cases and issued $6 million in Air Force Aid Stabilization Grants.

Working with and in support of their active duty partners, the 919th SOFSS embodied total force integration according to the unit's leadership.

"I am blessed to be a part of one of the highest functioning teams I've ever seen," said Hreczkosij. "We have a team that knows their individual roles supremely well. Because of this we have been able to tackle numerous challenges and find success."

Across the board, the 919th SOFSS made exemplary strides in supporting not only member and families of the 919th SOW, but also the Air Force Reserve's mission and priorities as a whole.