The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Cannon airman honored as ‘Outstanding Airman of Year’

 

July 10, 2009



USAF photo: Senior Airman Liliana Moreno Tech. Sgt. Marisol Lozada, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron, speaks to students and counselors from Eastern New Mexico University during a health class in September.

As June began, there were more than 262,000 enlisted airmen in the U.S. Air Force. Of those, only 12 were named Outstanding Airmen of the Year, one of whom is stationed right here, hidden away in the corridors of the 27th Special Operations Medical Group’s Mental Health clinic.

Tech. Sgt. Marisol Lozada was formally announced as one of the Outstanding Airmen of the Year on July 2 by Air Force officials at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

Dating back to 1956, the award was conceived by then Executive Director James Straubel of the Air Force Association, who wanted to highlight a manpower crisis.

Straubel felt the best way of doing this was to recognize an outstanding enlisted person from each major command and operating agency. By doing so, he felt he could sway the U.S. Congress to provide adequate pay and allowances for servicemembers.

Less than one percent of enlisted airmen are honored with the award annually, which is why it was such a surprise for Lozada.

“I was in shock,” said she said. “I never thought that I would win.”

But win she did, all the way through the Air Force level, though she gives much of the credit to the people of the mental health clinic in which she works. Most of the things that she had accomplished were conducted as a flight, she said.

“This award belongs to the flight and to the medical group, not just me,” added Lozada.

The award recognizes enlisted personnel for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements. The selection board consists of the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, a general officer and selected MAJCOM command chiefs.

“I think I stood at attention when (Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, commander, Air Force Special Operations Command) called to notify me that I had been selected,” she said.

Lozada has made strides in becoming one of this year’s twelve stellar airmen, having been born in Mexico where she lived until she was eleven. She emigrated to the United States with no knowledge of the English language and is now in her fourteenth year in the Air Force.

She received her associate’s degree prior to enlisting for reasons including pursuing her education and the chance to further herself.

“My family couldn’t afford to send us to school. I used up all my scholarships getting my associate’s degree,” said Lozada.

Utilizing the benefits the Air Force provides, she has since received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and is currently working toward her master’s degree in forensic psychology.

With this education background, Lozada is more than capable of performing her duties in mental health. She says that patient care is the most rewarding part of the job.

But working in the mental health field isn’t her only passion. An avid runner, she uses it both as hobby to keep fit and help deal as a stress reliever, and also enjoys doing anything with kids. She was formerly an aide working with mentally handicapped children.

Lozada is grateful for being honored as one of the Outstanding Airmen of the Year, but doesn’t feel that she should have the award when she sees what everybody else is doing around her.

“There are so many (servicemembers) out there putting their lives on the line and I wouldn’t hesitate to give the award to them,” said Lozada.

She mentions a story of three Marines and their lieutenant, who was mortally wounded. The three By Airman 1st Class Elliott Sprehe

27th SOW Public Affairs

As June began, there were more than 262,000 enlisted airmen in the U.S. Air Force. Of those, only 12 were named Outstanding Airmen of the Year, one of whom is stationed right here, hidden away in the corridors of the 27th Special Operations Medical Group’s Mental Health clinic.

Tech. Sgt. Marisol Lozada was formally announced as one of the Outstanding Airmen of the Year on July 2 by Air Force officials at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

Dating back to 1956, the award was conceived by then Executive Director James Straubel of the Air Force Association, who wanted to highlight a manpower crisis.

Straubel felt the best way of doing this was to recognize an outstanding enlisted person from each major command and operating agency. By doing so, he felt he could sway the U.S. Congress to provide adequate pay and allowances for servicemembers.

Less than one percent of enlisted airmen are honored with the award annually, which is why it was such a surprise for Lozada.

“I was in shock,” said she said. “I never thought that I would win.”

But win she did, all the way through the Air Force level, though she gives much of the credit to the people of the mental health clinic in which she works. Most of the things that she had accomplished were conducted as a flight, she said.

“This award belongs to the flight and to the medical group, not just me,” added Lozada.

The award recognizes enlisted personnel for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements. The selection board consists of the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, a general officer and selected MAJCOM command chiefs.

“I think I stood at attention when (Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, commander, Air Force Special Operations Command) called to notify me that I had been selected,” she said.

Lozada has made strides in becoming one of this year’s twelve stellar airmen, having been born in Mexico where she lived until she was eleven. She emigrated to the United States with no knowledge of the English language and is now in her fourteenth year in the Air Force.

She received her associate’s degree prior to enlisting for reasons including pursuing her education and the chance to further herself.

“My family couldn’t afford to send us to school. I used up all my scholarships getting my associate’s degree,” said Lozada.

Utilizing the benefits the Air Force provides, she has since received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and is currently working toward her master’s degree in forensic psychology.

With this education background, Lozada is more than capable of performing her duties in mental health. She says that patient care is the most rewarding part of the job.

But working in the mental health field isn’t her only passion. An avid runner, she uses it both as hobby to keep fit and help deal as a stress reliever, and also enjoys doing anything with kids. She was formerly an aide working with mentally handicapped children.

Lozada is grateful for being honored as one of the Outstanding Airmen of the Year, but doesn’t feel that she should have the award when she sees what everybody else is doing around her.

“There are so many (servicemembers) out there putting their lives on the line and I wouldn’t hesitate to give the award to them,” said Lozada.

She mentions a story of three Marines and their lieutenant, who was mortally wounded. The three Marines, who were wounded as well, brought their lieutenant to an overseas Intensive Care Unit and refused help until he was seen to.

“One of them, he couldn’t have been more than 20 years old, and he said, ‘Ma’am, I just want to get patched up and get back to my unit,’” said Lozada. “I used to call these young servicemembers kids and since that moment I will never use that word again. That Marine showed more courage and maturity than any other person I’ve met.”

She describes being awarded with the honor as surreal, a mirror that she can look back into and see the little girl from Mexico that didn’t know a word of English.

When she first enlisted and began her career in the mental health clinic, she was stationed at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.

There

, wounded warriors returned from the battlefield mortally wounded within 72 hours of their injury and family members of the wounded were contacted and brought there within 72 hours for their final goodbyes.

Lozada was unsure of whether or not she had what it took that first time she brought family members in to see their loved ones in their final moments. Even after she left she was at times unsure.

“Then I would get a thank you letter saying they appreciated me helping them spend their last moments together,” she said. “And that’s the most significant award I could ever get.”

 
 

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