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Bradley airfield management named best in Air National Guard

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Steven Tucker
  • 103rd Airlift Wing

EAST GRANBY, Conn. -- The 103rd Operations Support Squadron’s airfield management section at Bradley Air National Guard Base received top honors in the Air National Guard for 2021, winning the Ronald B. McCarthy Airfield Management Facility of the Year award as part of the Guard’s 2021 Airfield Management Operations Awards.

Additionally, Senior Master Sgt. Winnie Dion, 103rd Operations Support Squadron airfield manager, and Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Lenzi, 103rd Operations Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of airfield management operations, were named Airfield Management Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Airfield Management Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, respectively. The two both earned the same individual distinctions for 2018.

The team’s recognition is a culmination of more than five years of work since Dion took over as airfield manager in 2016. Lenzi arrived at Bradley in 2017, followed by Drill-Status Guardsmen Tech. Sgt. Robert Turgeon and Staff Sgt. Jordan Knightly more recently.

“It was definitely an exciting year for our shop overall,” said Lenzi. “There were several opportunities to take our skills and knowledge and apply them to real-world missions and get to work on parking plans for all types of aircraft.”

The airfield management section oversees the Air National Guard apron, which is located adjacent to Bradley International Airport.

In addition to facilitating the 103rd Airlift Wing’s C-130 mission, the airfield management section supported several transient aircraft, including commercial charters for the deployment of more than 500 Connecticut Army National Guard personnel from Bradley on March 10 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom’s Horn of Africa Mission.

“It was winter, we had snow piles that had to get moved due to the type of aircraft coming through, and so we coordinated that with the airport, which did an amazing job clearing those for us,” said Dion. “We had three different types of airframes that we had to coordinate wingtip clearance, parking, accounting for jet blast—all of that planning goes into an airplane coming in.”

Additionally, the team supported 24-hour alert operations in early 2021 following the events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.

“No planes come or go from this apron without airfield management here at any time, so we’re here for everything,” said Dion.

Dion also serves as the 103rd Airlift Wing’s liaison to the Connecticut Airport Authority, which owns Bradley International Airport. She and Lenzi attend meetings related to airport operations and construction and facilitate collaboration between the unit and CAA.

Additionally, Dion represents FEMA Region 1 for the National Guard Bureau’s Airfield Management Advisory Council. In this role, she collaborates with six bases in the northeast to review air wing instructions, operating instructions, and answer any questions they may have.

Lenzi oversaw the airfield driving and communications security programs, providing training and documentation for personnel involved.

The airfield management team also partners with nearby Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Mass. to provide their Airmen training opportunities at an Air Force-owned and operated airfield.

These efforts are in addition to the team’s execution of their daily responsibilities for the mission at Bradley.

“Every day when we come in, the first thing we do before anybody lands or takes off out of our ramp is an inspection,” said Dion. “We inspect the apron against Air Force criteria and ensure that it’s a safe operation for the aircraft and the people out there.”

During the 103rd Airlift Wing’s recent unit effectiveness inspection capstone, the airfield management team had no write-ups, received three “best practices,” and won an Exceptional Team Performance award, with Lenzi also being coined by the inspection team.

“A couple weeks after the UEI, we had so many different units in the Guard call us and ask us for our input on their programs,” said Dion. That makes me feel good when we can support other units as well. It just makes the whole airfield management community better if we can help each other.”

The airfield management team also helped coordinate an Oct. 15 visit from President Joe Biden, who transited through Bradley to an event at the University of Connecticut. This movement did not factor into the award as it took place in the new fiscal year, but will factor into future award submissions.

“It was a big year and this team rocked it,” said Dion. “I’m most proud of the Facility of the Year award. We wouldn’t have been able to win it without this team of airfield managers that are all so driven, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic.”