SrA. Christiana D. Bardsley is ANG’s Outstanding Airman of 2020
By Tech. Sgt. Morgan R. Lipinski, Air National Guard
/ Published August 17, 2020
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Senior Airman Christiana D. Bardsley, of the 143rd Airlift Wing, Rhode Island Air National Guard, was selected as the Air National Guard 2020 Outstanding Airman of the Year.
In September 2016, Bardsley completed a solo, six-month hike along the Appalachian Trail when she realized she still wanted to do more in life. An accomplished master’s degree graduate, Bardsley decided to leave her civilian business career to pursue a lifelong goal: enlist into the Air National Guard.
“I have always wanted to join the military,” said Bardsley. “My dad was drafted during Vietnam. My grandfather volunteered in World War II. So, I wanted to honor my family legacy and serve my country.”
Bardsley joined the 143rd AW as an intelligence analyst tasked with interpreting raw data in search of usable intel. Nearly four years later, she continues to excel in her craft.
“I wanted to go into intelligence because I liked the idea of researching and analyzing information to present to aircrews,” said Bardsley. “I really enjoy my career field because I know that the work I put in can ultimately protect them.”
Along with her passion for the job, Bardsley’s commitment to her fellow intel wingmen also motivates her to go above and beyond. In early 2019, Bardsley learned that a fellow analyst was unable to go on an upcoming deployment. She volunteered to take their place to avoid a personnel shortfall and departed for the 69-day tour to Southwest Asia.
While deployed, Bardsley’s responsibilities included assessing and briefing information to help guide strategic planning and situational awareness for aircrews as well as commanders.
“We went through every route and potential threat to make sure the aircrew had the best information and options available to them,” said Bardsley.
Bardsley tracked over 100 intel messages weekly and archived 950 bits of raw data in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. She also analyzed 1000 enemy combatant threats daily, resulting in a 95.8% effectiveness rate for U.S. Central Command missions.
One of Bardsley’s most impactful deployment accomplishments was identifying a new enemy weapon system introduced to the area of responsibility.
“I had to quickly learn about that system and the little that was known about it and address how it would affect our air platforms,” said Bardsley. “We were soon able to ensure proper dissemination of the information and keep our aircrews safe with this new system out there.”
Her other deployment contributions include modernizing a communications bug-out plan for 45 team members. Bardsley also drafted and reviewed 53 peer evasion plans of action that promoted the safety of 178 combat operators in the event of a downed aircraft.
“Airman Bardsley demonstrated incredible attention to detail with every mission assigned to her,” said Lt. Col. Lisa Campbell, the officer in charge of Bardsley’s deployed intel unit. “She regularly worked after hours because she cared so much about the mission. Her accuracy even affected more than our aircrews because other airframes would see her reports and adjust their missions accordingly. She definitely made a significant impact across the AOR.”
Bardsley’s keen eye for detail, care for her fellow Airmen, and commitment to improving the intelligence career field earned her recognition as the top Outstanding Air National Guard Airman of 2020.
“Winning this award says a lot about my unit because, after all, what I do is for them. They deserve the best and I want to be the best for them. I’m proud to be representing the Rhode Island Air National Guard,” said Bardsley.
Though Outstanding Airmen of the Year recognition events have been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, Bardsley is using this time to reflect.
“Winning this award during a pandemic makes it even more surreal,” said Bardsley. “This gives me more time to think about my professional goals and what I want to give back to my unit. It’s definitely an unprecedented time that makes you reflect and be thankful for your health and the health of your family and friends.”
Looking to the future, Bardsley plans to continue her career growth as an intelligence analyst. She holds hopes of one day commissioning into the officer corps and exploring if the sky is her limit by pursuing a pilot license.