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Local Airmen earn top enlisted honor

Two of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, Master Sgt. George Price (left) of the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron and Staff Sgt. James Weltin of the 333rd Recruiting Squadron, share a photo with 45th Space Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Susan Helms July 10. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chris Calkins)

Two of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, Master Sgt. George Price (left) of the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron and Staff Sgt. James Weltin of the 333rd Recruiting Squadron, share a photo with 45th Space Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Susan Helms July 10. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chris Calkins)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Master Sgt. George Price, 45th Space Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit supervisor, and Staff Sgt. James Weltin, from the Melbourne-based 333rd Recruiting Squadron were both named by the Air Force as two of its very best and members of the prestigious "12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2008."

An Air Force selection board at the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, considered 33 nominees who represented major commands, direct reporting units, field operating agencies and Air Staff agencies. The board selected the 12 based on superior leadership, job performance and personal achievements.

Sergeant's Price and Weltin were both named as the best of the best during the PAFB/CCAFS Annual Awards Banquet held last February.

Maj. Steve Finn, 45th Civil Engineer Squadron commander said the selection board couldn't have made a better selection than Sergeant Price.

"Sergeant Price is everything you could possibly ask for in a senior NCO. He's competent, confident and has the complete and unwavering confidence of his superiors, subordinates and equals," said Major Finn. "He's the ultimate Airman, and we're proud to say he's one of us," he said.

Sergeant Price, who has deployed many times to austere locations with his Explosive Ordnance Disposal team members, reiterated that awards like these are just proof positive of something he's known for a long, long time.

"In the Air Force, and in the military in general, it is virtually impossible to achieve a monumental accomplishment like this individually. I know that. We all do," he said. "So, even though I am very humbled and grateful to be recognized, I know in my heart that everyone in my flight shares this recognition with me," said Sergeant Price. "I thank my EOD family, the incredible men and women of the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron and especially my wife and kids for their unwavering support."

Staff Sgt. Weltin's supervisor knows they selected the right Airman.

"Staff Sgt Weltin has honored all recruiters by being named one of the "12 Outstanding Airmen of the Air Force. He is a true representation of what we all strive to be, great Airmen," said Master Sgt. Michael Kovach, the 333rd flight chief.

His commander concurs with the flight chief.

"We're all very proud of him. What an honor. He's the epitome of the humble professional," said Lt. Col. Jeff "Muddy" Waters, the 333rd squadron commander.
For Sergeant Weltin, whose wife, Shana, was expecting their child at press time, (they have a 4- and 2-year-old at home) this award is about more than just him.

"I am truly honored to have been selected for the 'Top 12.' Even though this is an individual award, this one is for the entire command of Air Force Recruiting Service," Sergeant Weltin said with a mile-wide smile. "Recruiters work countless hours and I would like to donate this award to them - and to my wife, who is the backbone of what I do."

Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th Space Wing commander, said she was extremely pleased when she was notified of these awards. "This is really something special; I'm not sure if this has ever happened here before. I just couldn't be happier for both of them, their units, families and friends," General Helms said.

"It's true that being in the Air Force epitomizes the "team" concept, but these two Airmen clearly went above and beyond the call to duty. It's only right they were selected for this amazing honor. I'm so proud of both of them," she added.

The nominees are authorized to wear the Outstanding Airman of the Year ribbon, while the 12 winners will wear the bronze service star device on the ribbon. The winners will also wear the Out-standing Airman of the Year Badge for one year from the date of formal presentation.

(Information for this story was provided by Air Force Personnel Center News Service.)