by Airman Justine Rho
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs
7/10/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- An Airman from the 502nd Air Base Wing here is an Air Force Outstanding Airman of the Year.
The Air Force recognized Tech. Sgt. Latoria R. Ellis, 502nd Contracting
Squadron, contracting officer, medical support flight NCO in charge, as a
In April, Ellis was named Air Education and Training Command's NCO of the Year, identifying her as number 1 out of 13,039 NCOs.
The Air Force OAY are chosen from 35 nominees representing major
commands, direct reporting units, field operating agencies and
Headquarters Air Force; only 12 Airmen were chosen as the elite.
During the 2013 calendar year, Ellis was recognized at the quarterly
awards, contracting annual awards and enlisted NCO annual awards at the
wing level. Because of that recognition, she was then selected to submit
a package for the 12 OAY awards at the MAJCOM level.
Aside from outstanding work performance, the OAY nominees must set
themselves apart by exemplifying leadership, illustrating significant
self-improvement and having base or community involvement.
"Some of Ellis' strong suites are leadership qualities," said Senior
Master Sgt. Toni Wiser 502nd CON, Operations superintendent. "She does a
great job being in tune with her Airmen and she is a very hands-on
In 2013, Ellis led a team of 25 to complete 86 contracts for Wilford
Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, the Air Force's largest medical wing.
She spearheaded a $2 million energy savings acquisition in which 19
buildings were retrofitted with solar panels, reducing the utility bill
and saving the Air Force $6,000 a year. She also steered a $1.9 million
generator efficiency project, replacing 33 percent of defective grids in
Military Family Housing, reducing output by 14 percent and saving the
Air Force $24,000 a year.
Additionally, Ellis aced 223 hours of training at the NCO Academy,
achieving Distinguished Graduate and Academic Achievement Awards.
"Sergeant Ellis is a ball of fire," said Wiser. "She's one of those
individuals that you can give a task and not have to check up on the
progress of that job. I think that she is such a good selection for the
12 OAY Award, also because she is so humbled by the experience."
With family members throughout the military services, dedication and
discipline have been qualities instilled in Ellis. Originally from
Miami, Ellis began her Air Force career in information management and
later cross-trained into contracting.
The military runs through my blood, said Ellis. Coming from a military
family and participating in junior reserve officers' training corps
since ninth grade, her main career path decision was choosing between
"I have always applied a lot of pressure on myself," said Ellis. "And
now I know that I have to push myself even further for my troops and my
Ellis continues to better herself and achieve personal goals at work and throughout her off-duty life.
In addition to continuing work on her master's degree and eventually
progress to a doctoral program, Ellis, pregnant with her first child,
said that she has another big goal right now.
"One of my main goals is to make it through this child birth," said Ellis.
"As far as this award and nomination, I know you probably hear it over
and over again, but this was not accomplished without a team," adds
Ellis. "I have had so many supporters, motivators and mentors in my
life. I am just so grateful."