7AS Airman selected for prestigious award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kylee Tyus
  • 62d Airlift Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Gary West, the 7th Airlift Squadron’s senior enlisted leader has been chosen to be the representative for Air Mobility Command for the prestigious Staff Sgt. Henry E. “Red” Erwin award.

During his time in service, one of West’s many notable contributions to the Air Force has been leading an eight-member team of experts in making significant changes to special leave accrual. Special leave accrual is a policy allowing service members to accrue and retain excess leave days beyond the normal maximum limit.

Typically, service members are allowed to retain a limited number of leave days from one fiscal year to the next, and any excess leave is forfeited if not used by the end of the fiscal year.

The changes ensure service members who are deployed state-side, will be able to retain their leave instead of having to give it up.

“Leave is a congressionally mandated entitlement,” said West. “This will apply to anybody across any major command (MAJCOM) cycle who will be affected by the Air Force Force Generation (AFFORGEN) cycle at any point, so I think it will re-instill some hope in Airmen that the Air Force has got their back.”

West has also served as chair for a cross-MAJCOM think tank advising Air Mobility Command headquarters on aerial delivery tactics West helped develop an Air Force-wide plan for combat expendable platforms to enhance survivability and support joint forces in challenging environments, countering emerging threats.

West strives to continue to make a positive impact in the Air Force by being a leader.

“The best thing you can do to inspire hope going forward is to be able to jump in and be that frontline tactical operator at any given time,” said West. “I know myself and the other senior non-commissioned officers in the squadron like to maintain all of our flying proficiencies, evaluation, qualification, certifications, readiness and metrics; everything we need so we can be out there at any time doing the job so we’re never too far detached from the mission.”

After nominees are selected, a committee will evaluate each nominee based on their performance and what they do to exemplify outstanding leadership and self-improvement in support of enlisted aircrew operations. The nominees will then be notified through official channels.

“I am nothing without the 7th AS,” said West. “This place is stacked with talent and leaders at every level that hold each other up, promote each other and help each other, be excellent. So in no way does this place succeed because of me, I am successful because of the 7th AS.”

West believes in cultivating a culture where every team member feels prepared and empowered to tackle challenges head-on. He explained that by fostering a collaborative environment and investing in the development of everyone, he ensures that his team is not only capable but also cohesive and resilient. According to West, together him and his team stand ready to overcome obstacles, drive positive change, and achieve their collective goals in alignment with the mission of the “Red” Erwin award.

According to West, being selected to represent Air Mobility Command for such a prestigious award creates a sense of responsibility to maintain and even exceed the standards that led to the nomination in the first place. A responsibility that drives him to continuously to improve his skills, knowledge, and performance.

“The 7AS knows that we have the best Senior Enlisted Leader in the business,” said Lt. Col. Brandon Westling, the 7th AS commander. “We are incredibly proud to see AMC confirm our suspicions that West is the most Outstanding SNCO Aircrew Member in our MAJCOM. Our squadron’s enlisted force is among the sharpest I have ever witnessed in 18 years of service and that is largely thanks to the impeccable example and dedicated mentorship of Senior West.”

According to Westling there is not a day that goes by without Senior West developing, instructing, and leading Airmen of every rank in the squadron, and across the community, as one of the most credible aviators to put on the flight suit.

“Being selected to represent Air Mobility Command for the “Red” Erwin award serves as a powerful source of motivation, pushing me to further excel in my work and make meaningful contributions to our profession,” said West.

West’s work in improving quality of life during state-side deployments and aiding in the development of advanced military education and training programs, has and will continue to ensure the execution of today’s global airlift mission.