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NEWS | Jan. 31, 2023

Nebraska National Guard announces Outstanding Airmen of the Year

By Maj. Scott Ingalsbe Joint Force Headquarters - Nebraska National Guard

Four Airmen have been named the Nebraska Air National Guard’s “Outstanding Airmen of the Year,” for 2023. 

The Airmen were selected by Nebraska Air National Guard senior enlisted leaders based upon a variety of criteria that included work the Airmen did over the previous calendar year in completing professional military education, civilian education, accomplishments within their respective work areas or during overseas deployments, and involvement in community or volunteer activities. 

The 2023 Nebraska Air National Guard Outstanding Airmen of the Year are:

•    Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Corey Weber, Bellevue, Neb. – 170th Operations Support Squadron, Intelligence Operations Analyst 

“Senior Airman Weber has demonstrated exceptional dedication to duty while serving as a true ‘Total Force’ Airman for both the 170th Operations Support Squadron and the 55th Intelligence Support Squadron,” Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Polivka, superintendent of the 170th Group, wrote in his nomination letter. “While not in uniform, Senior Airman Weber mentors 20 high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students.” 

•    Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Staff Sgt. Alica Bushhousen, Lincoln, Neb. – 155th Operations Support Squadron, Intelligence Operations Analyst

“Staff Sgt. Bushhousen is a high-performing, professional Airman. Her accomplishments are significant and definitively set her apart from her peers,” wrote Command Chief Master Sgt. Scott Tontegode, 155th Air Refueling Wing command chief. “Out of uniform, Alica is an avid power lifter, collegiate powerlifting coach and president of the University of Nebraska Barbell Club.”

•    Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Schmaderer, West Point, Neb. – 155th Operations Support Squadron, Aircrew Flight Equipment superintendent 

“Nationally, he has made significant positive impact by regularly providing his expertise as an Air Mobility Command Inspector General augmentee inspector and spearheaded an effort to streamline communication between 19 Air National Guard refueling wings,” Tontegode wrote. “Locally, he played a key role on the wing inspection team and was instrumental in planning and executing the opening of the 155th Airman’s Resiliency Center, a critical base asset dedicated to building team cohesion and airman resiliency.”

•    First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. Crystal Puhalla, Grand Island, Neb. – 155th Medical Group first sergeant

“Master Sgt. Puhalla developed and implemented support systems to Medical Group members [on vaccination teams] deployed to 15 different locations throughout the state of Nebraska,” wrote Col. Patti Fries, 155th Medical Group commander. “She served as First Sergeant on a Military Facility Annual Training to Okinawa, Japan, providing essential manpower assistance, gaining valuable experience, and representing her state with professionalism and expertise.”

“These Citizen Airmen have shown outstanding leadership and service in the past year and throughout their careers,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Horne, Nebraska Air National Guard state command chief master sergeant, who led the board of senior enlisted leaders conducting the selection process. “I can’t wait to see what they will accomplish next as they continue to serve our state and nation.”