Patrick instructor recognized as outstanding Airman of the year
By Heidi Hunt, 45th Space Wing
/ Published September 17, 2015
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Becoming an Outstanding Airmen of the Year takes team work, perseverance, and perspective, according to one of this year's winners, who is also representing Air Force Space Command and the 45th Space Wing.
Tech. Sgt. Tamara Acfalle, 45th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School instructor, said she never set out to win the 2015 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, but said that winning is both exciting and also humbling.
"It's nice to think that people consider me one of the best NCOs in the Air Force," she said.
Each year, only 12 enlisted personnel are recognized from across the Air Force for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements.
"I was never that person who was out saying I wanted to win awards," she said. "I did what I knew needed to be done, and of course, I was surrounded by a great team and that is what helped me get to where I am now."
Acfalle served as acting commandant for the Patrick Airman Leadership School and was instrumental in securing $65,000 in funding to fuel the $590,000 renovation of the base's Professional Development Center. She led the installation of $47,000 in interactive smart boards, forming 21st century classrooms.
Acfalle's iPad initiative reduced the school's operating costs and was chosen by the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force to be briefed at the Enlisted Force Development Panel in Washington, D.C. Ultimately, her proposal was adopted as the future Air Force standard. She also led 183 volunteers through 47 events, raising more than $1.5 million in proceeds that were donated to charity.
Additionally, Acfalle completed the NCO Academy, garnering the John L. Levitow Award.
"What we have been able to accomplish at the professional development center is something that no one has been able to do in the Air Force," said Chief Master Sgt. Craig Neri, 14th Air Force command chief and the 45th Space Wing's prior command chief.
Neri said Acfalle and her ALS team were at the forefront of those initiatives and were very successful at it -- not just eliminating budgets but also improving the education of the professional development of our Airmen.
"It's the hundreds of Airmen who go through school, and not just Airman Leadership School, but for all of the classes offered here that now have the technology that is built upon by her and her comrades ... that has made a real difference," Neri said.
Since the digital innovation, ALS has seen a four percent increase in test scores and the number of academic review boards have drastically reduced over time.
While Acfalle has been lauded for her concept of dedication, attitude, commitment, and understanding of the Air Force core values, she said she doesn't think people should set out to 'just' win awards because they may not necessarily be doing it for the right reasons.
Rather, she advices Airmen to be a better 'you,' every single day.
"If you're doing your job and doing it well and you're also getting out there and helping your community, or doing the things you love to do ... in the end, you are going to earn what you earn and you're going to actually get to where you want to be," Acfalle said.
Staff Sgt. Kevin Green, 45th FSS ALS instructor, who is training under Acfalle said he is learning, every day, from the best example possible.
"She's not just inspiring her students and myself -- but she's inspiring her peers," Green said. "She's inspiring people around this wing as an example of what to be like."
According to her former command chief, Acfalle is an exceptional part of the legacy established at the Patrick Professional Development Center.
"It's that kind of standard that she has set and that is what sets her apart [from others] in our Air Force," Neri said.
The Air Force Association honored the 12 Outstanding Airmen at its annual convention in Washington, D.C., Sept. 14, 2015.