186th Air Refueling Wing announces Outstanding Airmen of the Year

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jessica Hulbert
  • 186 Air Refueling Wing

Three airmen with the 186th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) in Meridian, Mississippi, were announced as the 2023 Outstanding Airmen of the Year (OAY) for the Mississippi Air National Guard. 

Each year candidates are selected at the wing level and submitted for consideration to represent at the state level. Recipients for 2023 are Airman 1st Class Mark Gutierrez, Tech. Sgt. William A. Smith, and Master Sgt. Hank Fairchild. These airmen demonstrated exceptional leadership, outstanding job performance and commitment to the advancement of fellow airmen.

“The Airmen of the Year Award competition provides us with an opportunity to honor the accomplishments of airmen and highlight top performers for their dedication to duty and support of the mission. We are proud to have three Airmen within the 186th Air Refueling Wing receive this honor for the state,” said Commander Colonel Cynthia Smith.

Award Categories and Winners: 

Airman of the Year- Airman 1st Class Mark Gutierrez, Jr., of the 186th Security Forces Squadron. Gutierrez, a Security Forces Journeyman, also serves as a Security Response Team Member (SRT), and lead translator for the 186th Security Forces Office of Investigations. 

Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year- Tech. Sgt. William A. Smith, of the186th Maintenance Group, is a Crew Chief assigned to the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron,  and is responsible for the maintenance of aircraft and training and mobilization of maintenance personnel. 

Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year- Master Sgt. Hank Fairchild, of the 186th Logistics Readiness Squadron, is a Logistics Plans Craftsman and also acts as an adviser to the Installation Deployment Officer. 

“Airmen of the Year is an excellent honor and we are proud of our Airmen for their accomplishments and being selected for state,” said 186th Air Refueling Wing Command Chief Dan McMullen.

The 186th Air Refueling Wing provides 1,100 personnel and eight KC-135R aircraft to Air Mobility Command for worldwide operations. The wing also supports domestic counter-drug and emergency response missions as well as overseas combatant commander requirements with an RC-26B aircraft. Additional units at Key Field include the 238th Air Support Operations Squadron, the 248th Air Traffic Control Squadron, and the 186th Air Operations Group.