Idaho Air National Guardsman selected as 2021 Outstanding Airman of the Year

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mercedee Wilds
  • 124th Fighter Wing

BOISE AIR TERMINAL AIR GUARD STATION, ID -- Master Sgt. Dan Keller, the chief of weapons and tactics with the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron, Idaho Air National Guard, was selected as the Air National Guard’s 2021 Outstanding Airman of the Year Senior NCO.

Although Keller started his impressive 17 year military career in the U.S. Navy, he has adopted the whole Airman concept and embraced the foundation for what it means to be an Airman by establishing three pillars for excellence: leadership and job performance, significant self-improvement and base or community involvement.

Keller joined the Navy in 2003 where he spent over 5 years on active duty. After a brief break in service to pursue educational opportunities he joined the Kentucky Air National Guard as a combat controller where he exceeded expectations and excelled in his career. After multiple combat deployments Keller shifted focus and became a weapons officer for the weapons school at Nellis Air Force Base before bringing his knowledge and experience to the 124th Fighter Wing as the 124th ASOS chief of weapons and tactics.

Keller has focused on revamping and reenergizing the weapons and tactics program for the 124th Operations Group, creating systems and processes to help the fighter wing keep functioning at extremely high levels.

“I care about this career field, and I care about the Airmen getting qualified,” said Keller. “If they find themselves overseas, they will have guys relying on them to have advanced training. That means a lot to me.”

Guardsmen are unique in that they are able to bring their experiences from all walks of life, which lead to exceptional leadership skills. Keller believes that his leadership skills stem from his time in the Navy.

“The Navy taught me a lot about the NCO Corps, like supervising people and how different people have different motivations,” said Keller. “We're all motivated by something. Whether it be you get to leave work early if you finish early or you will get praise if you finish early. I think learning how to identify what motivates a person from an early age and understanding that some people have limits, with their ability to progress, whether it be technical proficiency, or their ability to supervise people and then acknowledging that not everybody is supposed to be in charge of everything.”

For his commitment to embracing the whole Airman concept, Keller was awarded the title of the ANG’s 2021 Senior NCO Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

“It's a very humbling acknowledgement. I appreciate the amount of effort from the senior enlisted leadership and the amount of work they put into pushing their enlisted people forward, and trying to acknowledge what people have been doing,” said Keller. “Internal of the squadron, the group, the wing and the state, it helps remind the rest of the guard, we're doing the right thing.”