New Jersey Airmen Awarded

  • Published
  • By NJ State Command Chief Master Sgt. Michael Rakauckas
  • New Jersey Air National Guard

The New Jersey Air National Guard's 4th Annual Awards Luncheon was held at New Jersey National Guard Joint Force Headquarters on June 22, 2022. The awards program recognizes the best of the best and further validates their professional standards as Leaders, Wingmen, and Warriors. The competition was fierce but the relentless pursuit of personal and professional growth and volunteerism separated the award winners from their peers.

Their contributions to the Air National Guard promote a respectful culture and innovation, with a heightened focus on mission readiness. We are extremely proud of their accomplishments and look forward to witnessing their future successes and positive impacts to the Air National Guard.

Awardees recognized were Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Carmine Giangeruso, who received the Maj. Gen. Richard “Craig” Cosgrave Chief's Award. Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Cosgrave was in attendance and continues to be a legend within the New Jersey Air National Guard, retiring in 2002 as the New Jersey Air National Guard Commander. He is known for being a highly decorated fighter pilot receiving the Air Force Distinguished Service medal, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 14 oak leaf cluster amongst other numerous awards and decorations. Brig. Gen. (Ret) Robert Dutko was also in attendance and spoke about the Henry “J” Jones Award for Airman, NCO and SNCO.

"It is so important to recognize our Airmen, they give it their all and we should celebrate that," said Dutko.

Dutko retired in 2003 as the Assistant Adjutant General –Air for the New Jersey Air National Guard with over 42 years of service. He continues to be an advocate and supporter of Air National Guard history and heritage. He is currently the president of the Armed Force Heritage Museum, which is a new mobile and virtual museum for New Jersey and the surrounding region.

Senior Master Sgt. Scott Cupples. 108th Wing First Sergeant, received the Henry “J” Jones award for SNCO, Tech. Sgt. Paidra Lucas, 177th Fighter Wing, won for NCO and Airman 1st Class Keith Zink, 177th Fighter Wing, won the Airman level of the award.

Other awards included several Recruiting and Retention Awards culminating with the NJANG Recruiter of the Year, Tech. Sgt. Anthony Irvin, 177th Fighter Wing.

The NJANG Outstanding Airmen of the year awards went to the following recipients:
First Sergeant: Senior Master Sgt. Scott Cupples, 108th Wing, First Sergeant. 
SNCO: Master Sgt. Justin Kaenzig, 177th Fighter Wing, Medical Group. 
NCO: Staff Sgt. Ivan Quiroz, 177th Civil Engineering Squadron, 177th Fighter Wing.
Airman: Senior Airman Sean Callaghan, Boom Operator, 108th Wing, 141th Air Refueling Squadron.

This event culminated with final words to all awardees and guests by the host, Brig. Gen. Patrick Kennedy, the New Jersey Air National Guard commander and Assistant Adjutant General-Air.

"These Airmen deserve to be recognized and without all of your support, mentorship and leadership events like this are not possible, keep recognizing our Airmen," said Kennedy.

Senior leadership and distinguished guest moved to the second floor of Joint Force Headquarters for the revealing of a customized NJANG Awards wall which has been in the making for more than two years. With a customer vision drawn out, members of the 108th Civil Engineering Squadron and 108th Maintenance Group were able to create and develop an outstanding display to recognize our annual award winners, without them this would not be possible.

 The following helped craft this award wall:
Lettering and headquarters shield and mounting rails for photos. Mr. Brian Willitts, Mr. Brian Mullen and Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Ebbert from the 108th CES and Senior Master Sgt. Dave Fortin, Tech Sgt. Robert Johnson and Senior Airman Elijah Sims from the 108th MXG.

We thank this team for all their efforts! The crowd witnessing the revealing of the awards wall were impressed, but also understood the importance of recognizing our Airmen. The awards wall signifies our heritage and history of our force.