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Wing NCO earns Air Force-level award

Senior Master Sgt. Terry Wooldridge, a reservist assigned to the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department, has been named the Air Force's Outstanding  Civil Engineer Manager of the Year.

Senior Master Sgt. Terry Wooldridge, a reservist assigned to the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department, has been named the Air Force's Outstanding Civil Engineer Manager of the Year.

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- For Senior Master Sgt. Terry Wooldridge, being nominated just for the 45th Space Wing-level award was surreal in itself.

But his emotions didn't stop there. They were just warming up.

After winning here at the Wing level, he was next declared the winner of the Air Force Space Command Award, and then later was told he was the recipient of the "Air Force's Outstanding Civil Engineer Manager of the Year" award.

That's as high as an Airman can go.

"My feelings went from surreal to unreal," said Sgt. Wooldridge, who was raised mostly in Virginia, but graduated from nearby St. Cloud High School in 1996. "It's very cool, and I am incredibly humbled to be honored like this."

Sgt. Wooldridge, a reservist assigned to the Fire Department, joined the Air Force directly after high school, and has served 16-plus years, including six years on active duty at the beginning of his military career.

In his civilian position, he works as a full-time civilian firefighter, and works out of "Station 74," located in downtown Melbourne.

His direct Air Force supervisor said Wooldridge is someone his entire unit can look up to in tough times and count on to do what needs to be done all the time.

"Senior Master Sgt. Wooldridge is a textbook example of what I'm looking for in an Individual Mobilization Augmentee," said Mark Palm, 45th Space Wing Fire Chief.

"He brings a wide breadth of civilian and military firefighting experience and seamlessly integrates into Patrick's Fire Emergency Services Flight," he said.

Not only that, said the Chief, he has stepped up his efforts once again in his current duties.

"Terry is not afraid to tackle the big jobs and is currently serving as the Fire Emergency Services flight Accreditation Manager," he said.

"In this capacity, he's guiding the flight through a rigorous 1-year process of gaining national recognition from The Commission on Fire Service Accreditation International," he said.

For his part, Terry said the relationship he has with members of the Wing present a win-win situation for everyone.

"Our senior leadership, both here at the Fire Department and within our CE Squadron, takes a common-sense approach that allows me - and others - the opportunities to make a difference," Sgt. Wooldridge said. "I just try to take advantages of these opportunities."

According to his commander, he's doing a bang-up job.

"Senior Master Sgt. Wooldridge exemplifies everything good about the NCO Corps within our Air Force," said Lt. Col. Susan Riordan-Smith, commander, 45th Civil Engineer Squadron.

"Not only does he continue to lead from the front, he ensures that no Airman under his watch is ever left behind. Our entire squadron is thrilled with his selection for this Air Force-level award," she said.

The sergeant was quick to deflect the credit for this Air Force-level award, and any recognition he has received over the years.

"Let's just be honest and up-front," he said with a knowing smile. "Any leader or supervisor knows all too well that they are only as good as the team of people they work with.

"And it just so happens I work with the best. Congratulations to them, each and every member of our team," he said with obvious pride.