Military News

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Whiteman Airman recognized during outstanding Airman of the year ceremony

by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

9/22/2015 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Every year, top 12 enlisted performers, Air Force-wide, are selected based on their job performance, leadership abilities and self-improvement activities.

These Airmen are honored as one of the Outstanding Airman of the Year (OAY).

Senior Airman Mason Meherg, 509th Comptroller Squadron financial services technician, received his award Sept. 14 in Washington, D.C., for being one of 12 OAY for 2015.

During his trip to Washington D.C., Meherg attended a recognition ceremony as well as his first OAY meeting.

The 12 OAY have many duties, including traveling to bases all around the country and receiving feedback from enlisted members on how the Air Force can be improved. The Airmen then make recommendations through the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force on quality of life and policy issues that impact the enlisted force.

Joining the Air Force less than three years ago, Meherg said he never expected to be chosen as one of the 12 OAY.

"It is very humbling to go from a one-stripe Airman in tech school, just two years ago, to one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year," said Meherg.

Meherg holds the title of being Financial Management Airman of the Year for Air Force Global Strike Command; an award he earned while supporting more than 10,000 members across three wings.

Because of his hard work and reliability, Meherg filled the NCO in charge of special actions position while holding the rank of airman first class.

"Being trusted by my leadership early-on in my career was rewarding," said Meherg. "I came to work every day and did my best, so I wouldn't let them down."

In order to help his office become more proficient and timely, Meherg significantly improved in-processing procedures. He cut hundreds of man-hours by changing the typical mass briefing into a one-on-one service so customers could receive more timely payment with fewer errors.

With Meherg's help, many programs have become more streamlined. For example, Meherg surpassed the Air Force's five-day expectation for completing Articles 15 by processing 27 different cases within 24 hours.

It's this type of ingenuity that helped his office better support the wing's mission, ultimately enhancing Airmen readiness by allowing them to focus on their duties, rather than their finances.

"We need our Airmen to be laser focused when they're at work," said Senior Master Sgt. Nathaniel Bettisworth, 509th Comptroller Squadron superintendent. "If we can help keep Whiteman personnel from having any financial problems, then we can mitigate distractions from what they are doing day-in and day-out."

Meherg feels that self-improvement can also help him perform better on the job, and so he takes his education very seriously. After completing his Community College of the Air Force degree in Finance Management within a year, he began pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Business. He also attended a "Presenting Ideas to Leadership" seminar which he is able to apply every day when communicating with his supervisors.

"All professional development and education builds the knowledge needed to be more effective in the work center," said Meherg. "CMSAF James A. Cody talked about the difference between being a technician and a professional Airman at the Air Force Sergeant's Association Professional Airmen's Conference a couple of weeks ago. Our force is too small for technicians. We need Airmen that are improving themselves in all aspects in order to be more effective and proficient."

Meherg noted that the visit to the Nation's capital gave him the chance to reflect on one of the reasons he and his team continues to give their best effort.

"We had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery while I was in Washington, D.C., and it really puts everything in perspective," said Meherg. "This award was a personal recognition that stemmed from an all-out team effort from Airmen that understand what these men and women died for. Giving your all every day can help ensure that those acres and acres of graves and the people that lie in them are not in vain."

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