JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
Technical Sgt. Andrew C. Merrylees, a radio frequency transmission system specialist from the 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware Air National Guard, has been selected as the Air National Guard’s 2019 Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
Innovation within the ANG is key for maintaining the ability to fly, fight, and win across all warfighting domains. To maximize opportunities for modernization, the ANG enlisted the help of Airmen from the 90 wings to brainstorm ideas for meaningful, positive change in the force.
As an innovator at heart, Merrylees leveraged his skills as a communications specialist to spearhead improvements in cyberspace operations.
“Computer programing has become my passion,” said Merrylees. “I love to take processes, pick them apart, and make them better through automation and programming.”
In 2018, Merrylees engineered a tablet-friendly quality assurance tool that increased evaluation efficiency for the 166th Communications Flight by 200 percent. He also created a groundbreaking database that monitored Airmen’s upgrade training. This program reduced the number of overdue Airmen by more than 70 percent, thus impacting the wing’s ability to promote and deploy Airmen on time. A budget consolidation tool developed by Merrylees safeguarded appropriate spending and tracking of the 166th CF $90,000 budget, securing internal controls for vital DOD financial assets.
“I taught myself how to code so I could help develop products that save people time,” said Merrylees. “Whenever I see a product that I created make someone’s work load a little bit easier that makes my day.”
The impacts of Merrylees’ innovation also enhanced 166th AW total force readiness. Prior to the wing’s unit effectiveness inspection in 2018, Merrylees created an analysis tool that detected deficiencies in the wing’s major graded areas. The identification and resolution of these discrepancies resulted in a successful inspection for the 166th AW.
“Merrylees is a very analytical person who has a knack for finding inefficiencies,” said Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Spruill, the 166th CF operations superintendent and Merrylees’ supervisor. “He comes about it with humility but his hard work has truly created a lasting impact on our flight, the wing, and the Air National Guard.”
For his dedication toward discovery and growth of the ANG, Merrylees earned the title as the ANG’s Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and one of the U.S. Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
“Winning these awards has been so humbling and I am so grateful for all the mentors who had a part in getting me here,” said Merrylees. “I’m just so thankful.”
The ANG depends on Airmen, like Merrylees, to strive for positive change in order to secure our future as the world’s preeminent leaders in air, space, and cyberspace.
“One of the things that’s in our DNA, in our core, is the fact we come to the table with different ideas,” said Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, the director of the ANG. “Today’s emphasis on innovation and innovative thinking highlights an important Guard strength ... preparing for the future by building for tomorrow’s fight.”
Looking to the future, Merrylees plans to continue seeking opportunities to revolutionize the ANG. One day, he hopes to commission into the officer-core and inspire other Airmen to also strive for excellence through innovation.