TOP STORY > >Base thanks mayor for support
Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim was the recipient of the first Team Little Rock Cornerstone Award for his contribution to base relations. Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz, commander of the 314th Airlift Wing, came up with the idea for the award as a way to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the air base.
Swaim was instrumental in getting a penny sales tax passed that will help fund a new education center in front of the air base.
The center is a joint project between the air base and the city and will cost $15 million. The city is contributing $5 million of that amount. Congress recently appropriated $10 million through a Defense Department spending bill. Construction will start next year.
The project is the first of its kind in the nation, forging a unique partnership between the military and the city. The education center will serve the military and civilian students, in effect providing a college campus in Jacksonville.
Maj. Gen. Irving L. Halter, commander of the 19th Air Force, and Schatz presided over the ceremony at the sports and fitness center.
Halter called the winners better than Super Bowl athletes.
“I can guarantee you our team will be back here next year, doing the same thing with the same people as of the same great Air Force, because ‘The Rock’ and the Air Force have made a habit of excellence,” Halter said during the awards presentation.
Senior Airman Hector Villarreal, of the 314th Maintenance Squadron, was named airman of the year.
Tech Sgt. Joseph Croswait, of the 314th Civil Engineering Squadron, was selected noncommissioned officer of the year.
Senior Master Sgt. Brian Stevens of the 314th Maintenance Squadron, was picked senior noncommissioned officer of the year.
Capt. Daniel J. Brown, of the 61st Airlift Squadron, was chosen company grade officer of the year.
Master Sgt. Charles Doan, of the 314th Medical Group, was named first sergeant of the year.
Tech Sgt. Kendal Dismute, of the 314th Civil Engineer Squadron was ceremonial guardsman of the year.
Terry Gardner of the 314th Maintenance Squadron was civilian of the year in category one.
Randall Grimes of the 314th Medical Support Squadron was civilian of the year in category two.
Maighdlin DiMatteo of the 314th Services Squadron, Hangar 1080, was honored in the nonappropriated funds category of the year.
Diandra Crippen of the 314th Services Squadron accounting office, was in category two.
Jerry McCray of the 314th Services Squardon, Razorback Inn, won in category three.
John Heffernan, 314 th Airlift Wing, retiree activities office, was volunteer of the year.
The Tops in Blue musical group provided the entertainment.
Staff Sgt. Beth Orlen of the 314th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office contributed to this report.