by Kimberly Woodruff
Tinker Public Affairs
6/16/2015 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A
pilot with the 552nd Operations Group has taken home the 2015 Airlift
Tanker Association Young Leadership Award for Air Combat Command.
Capt. Fernando Nicolalde had an impressive award package that included
accomplishments from the last year, from his time as a flight commander
for the Aircrew Flight Equipment (formerly known as Life Support) and
Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape shops, as well as from his
deployment to Southwest Asia, where he served as an executive officer
with the 380th Expeditionary Operations Group.
"I was part of the turn-around last summer when daily operations transitioned into Iraq and Syria," said the captain.
The package contained approximate-ly 30 bullets over professional leadership and community involvement.
Captain Nicolalde shares the credit for the award with the AFE and SERE Airmen of the 552nd OG.
"These Airmen work behind the scenes, 24 hours a day, to provide the E-3
fleet and aircrew with life sustaining equipment (oxygen masks, life
rafts, escape slides, life preservers, anti-exposure suits, weapons
issue, and survival kits) and training," said the captain. "Of all my
jobs in the Air Force, leading these amazing individuals has been the
most fulfilling as they have a drive to serve and prepare aircrew for
the very worst."
Captain Nicolalde said he was humbled by the award.
"I have a strong belief in God and his work in my life," he said. "I
just concentrate on doing my job to the best of my abilities and give
all the glory to Him."
The captain said he's been blessed to be in the right place with the
right people at the right time. His success is credited to the positive
influence of his leadership.
"Captain Nicolalde is an amazing company grade officer and has done
nothing but excel at every opportunity and meet all challenges put in
front of him," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Jennings, 552nd Operations Support
Col. Jay Bickley, 552nd Air Control Wing commander, agrees.
"Being nominated alone is an achievement and to have it topped with a
win at the major command level is outstanding," said Colonel Bickley.
"Congratulations and best of luck as you represent the 552nd ACW and Air
Combat Command at the next level!"