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Airmen, civilians honored during AFDW awards

By C. Todd Lopez

BOLLING AIR FORCE BASE, Washington, D.C. (April 26, 2007) -- Nearly 300 gathered at the Bolling Clubs Tuesday night as attendees of the first Air Force District of Washington Awards Ceremony.

The event was held to honor the best and brightest performers, both civilian and military, within the District, in 2006. During the ceremony, 10 winners were chosen from 38 nominees in 10 categories.

Maj. Gen. Robert L. Smolen, Commander, Air Force District of Washington, presented the First Sergeant of the Year award to Senior Master Sgt. Ishraph Mohammed, a first sergeant with the 11th Wing, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., during the 2006 AFDW Awards Ceremony. Sergeant Mohammed was joined on stage by his wife, Debbi.

The host of the event, Maj. Gen. Robert L. Smolen, Commander, Air Force District of Washington, expressed pride in both the award winners and the nominees.

"I feel very fortunate because I know personally just about every one that was either nominated or won tonight," he said. "I am very proud of each and every one of you. Any one of those nominees is a winner. And I know how tough it was, because I saw the packages, trying to figure out how we pick just one from every category."

Award winners included:

• Airman: Senior Airman Victoria Herron, 79th Medical Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

• Noncommissioned Officer: Staff Sgt. Leah Franciso, 316th Wing, Andrews AFB

• Senior Noncommissioned Officer: Senior Master Sgt. Robert Rodewald, 11th Wing, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C.

• Company Grade Officer: 1st Lt. Thomas Eckel, 316th Wing

• Civilian Category I: Ms. Wanda Griggs, 11th Wing

• Civilian Category II: Mr. Wesley Beemer, 11th Wing

• Civilian Category III: Ms. Patricia Gray, 316th Wing

• Civilian Volunteer: Mr. Michael Zdobysz, 11th Wing

• Military Volunteer: Master Sgt. Brian Woodbury, 844th Communications Group, Bolling AFB

• 1st Sergeant: Senior Master Sgt. Ishraph Mohammed, 11th Wing

The general also commented on the difficulty of the AFDW mission, and it's importance to both the Air Force and the nation.

"This is a very fast, dynamic, and moving area in the Washington, D.C., area," he said. "I know everybody is working really hard to perform the very tough mission we have -- but we control the forces that guard the crown gems of the empire. And I think we should all be very proud of the role we play, not only here in the nation's capital, but what we contribute to the Air Force as a whole. I salute each of the winners and all of you."

During the dinner portion of the evening, ceremony attendees were entertained with live musical selections from the Air Force Band's "Strolling Strings." And before the award presentation, the Band's "Airmen of Note" played a musical tribute to all award nominees.

The AFDW acts as the single voice for the Air Force within the National Capitol Region. Together with the Military District of Washington and the Naval District of Washington, AFDW provides for the defense of the nation's capital, in addition to providing military support in the Washington, D.C., area when needed.