AF recognizes top wing command team
WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Col. Mark August and his wife, Cristen, received the General and Mrs. Jerome F. O’Malley Award during a ceremony at the Pentagon, May 8.
The Augusts received the award from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III for the time they spent as the command team of the 374th Airlift Wing, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
“The thing the O’Malleys were known for in our Air Force was this – it was the team – which is what makes this award so special,” Welsh said. “We’re not just telling Mark he did a great job as the wing commander of Yokota, which he did. We’re telling Mark and Cris that they did a great job as the wing command team at Yokota.”
The annual award is named after O'Malley and his wife, Diane, and recognizes the wing commander and spouse whose contributions to the nation, Air Force and local community best exemplify the highest ideals and positive leadership of a military couple in key positions.
“This award is special because you’re recognizing a symbol of family for our Air Force,” Welsh explained. “You’re recognizing the fact that nobody does this alone – there has to be a team.”
During the ceremony, Ellen Jumper, retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper’s wife, presented the August’s with gifts on behalf of the O’Malley family: a set of brigadier general stars worn by O’Malley, and a crystal rose, a symbol of guiding by grace.
“(The O’Malleys) reminded people in the Air Force what families were about – why we were a family, not just a personal family, but an Air Force family,” Jumper said. “This award personifies what General and Mrs. O’Malley practiced in their everyday life.”
August credited his Yokota Airmen with the successes seen over the last two years, and thanked his own family for the various roles they played during their time at the 374th AW.
“What we really wanted to do was to get a chance to go out and meet these families and understand who these Airmen really were,” August said. “What we realized is when we got to Yokota, we had a completely average group of Airmen and their families. What we would soon ask them to do were incredible things against impossible odds.”
The 374th AW took a 47 percent hit to its budget under sequestration, and the Airmen rallied to complete the mission while saving money.
“All we had to do was explain ‘why,’ and the entire base population – Airmen and their families – were ready to bear the sacrifice of what needed to be done to get through sequestration,” August said.
In addition to finding more efficient ways to complete the mission, Yakota Airmen began winning major command and Air Force-level awards under the Augusts leadership.
“The leadership culture changed,” August said. “It was an amazing place to be. On behalf of the men and women of the 374th Airlift Wing, we are incredibly proud to accept this award.”