THE SWORD & SHIELD State Public Affairs | Quarterly E-Newsletter




MISSION: Generate ready forces to safeguard Wyoming, protect the nation and add value to our communities.

VISION: The Wyoming National Guard will serve as the Sword and Shield for our state and nation. As the Sword, we will project lethal force capable of winning on the battlefield. As the Shield, the Joint Force will be responsive and effective in safeguarding our residents and fellow citizens.


  • COVID-19 Update
  • Around the WyMD
  • Coming Soon: New Website
  • WYNG History: The Story of Us
  • Podcasts
  • Upcoming HRO Classes & Events

COVID-19 Update

  • The WYMD is currently in HPCON Bravo+ and will increase to Charlie following drill weekend.
  • Stay home when sick unless you need medical attention.
  • Wear face masks indoors when social distancing isn’t practical.
  • Entrances of facilities are clearly marked.
  • If you are feeling sick, use the COVID-19 screening questionnaire before coming to work.
  • COVID-19 Resources are available to you on our website HERE.

Around the WYOMING Military Department

Soldiers volunteer at Wyoming ranch to help prepare for Operation Remount

by Sgt. Kristina Kranz, State Public Affairs Specialist

It was an overcast and drizzly day on Saturday for Staff Sgt. Felicia Holbrook and her soldier Pfc. Brandon Miller. Holbrook is a recruiter in the Wyoming Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. Miller is one of her Recruit Sustainment Program soldiers. The two arrived at the Mirrored K Legacy Ranch in Jay Em, Wyoming, to start their day helping clean out the horse barn in preparation for a program called Operation Remount.

Originally, there were supposed to be several other recruit soldiers and cadets from the Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy to help out. Due to unfortunate events, only Holbrook and Miller were able to make it.

The ranch is owned by Kelly Alexander and the program is run by him and his family. Alexander is a veteran who served over 20 years in the Army and Army National Guard. The program stemmed from his own experience with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as multiple traumatic brain injuries.

After trying several different programs to get treatment, he came across a program in Texas called Veterans and Mustangs through the Mustang Heritage Foundation. It was there that he found the tools needed to find the way back to his normal self.

“When it comes to heart, mustangs have it, hands down.” Alexander says. He wants to duplicate his experience and allow veterans who suffer from traumatic issues like PTSD to find their way back as he did.

Operation Remount is a 6-week program that pairs the participant with a wild mustang. Wild mustangs also experience trauma when they have to be pulled away from their herds and placed in overcrowded pens and immunized. There’s a shared type of experience between participant and mustang, which helps in the healing process. They work to build a trusting and bonding relationship through one on one training.

The program is funded entirely by donations and free to veterans and first responders who participate. There are some expenses participants will have to pay for themselves in the beginning, but in the future, the Alexander’s want everything to be covered by the program.

Holbrook herself is an experienced equine handler and will be volunteering her own time to help teach classes at Operation Remount. She recently started her own business called Shade Tree Equine and Canine Massage. “I’m a little bit nervous,” says Holbrook. “It will be my first time taking what I’ve learned and showing it to others.”

Holbrook is using these types of opportunities to volunteer to help her Recruit Sustainment Soldiers during their time with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion. Soldiers who enlist and have a while before they ship out to Basic Combat Training participate in the RSP, which is treated like a regular part-time drill with the Guard. They learn basic soldiering skills that prepare them for BCT.

“The Recruit Sustainment Program is highly encouraged to volunteer in their community, and we don’t always get the opportunity to do that,” Holbrook says. “I want these kids to understand that even if your military family is retired, they still might need help, and this is an opportunity to volunteer with a great program.”

Volunteering offers soldiers the opportunity to get to know and help out in their community. Programs like Operation Remount provide opportunities to soldiers and anyone else who wants to find a way to give back to their community.

Joint Paradrop Training Mission

Video by Spc. Roy Uptain, 197th Public Affairs Detachment

Wyoming Honor Guard observes Memorial Day

by Sgt. Stew Dyer, State Public Affairs Office

Members of the Wyoming Army National Guard Honor Guard performed military honors for the Cheyenne National Ceremony Memorial Day observance on May 28, 2021.

The private ceremony was held Friday morning to honor those veterans who died over the past year. Cemetery Director for the Cheyenne National Cemetery Greg Smith explained the changes to this year’s ceremony. “We are here to remember those who have fought and died for our country, this year we made the ceremony private due to COVID restrictions, but we still wanted to honor those veterans,” said Smith.

The honor guard firing team performed a ceremonial three-volley salute and Staff Sgt. Brandon Ormeroid performed taps. The memorial address was given by Smith.

2nd Lt. Darrell Wilkes, State Coordinator for military funeral honors led the Army National Guard team. “Our honor guard consists mainly of a volunteer force that dedicates their time to come out and honor veterans across the state. These veterans deserve these honors and we strive to maintain the highest standards in that honor,” said Wilkes.

The Military Funeral Honors team typically performs more than 200 ceremonial missions a year in cemeteries all over Wyoming. The team's mission is to provide and coordinate the appropriate final tribute to eligible Wyoming Veterans, acknowledging their faithful and honorable service to the State of Wyoming and our Nation. The Military Funeral Honors Program (MFHP) is committed to serving veterans and their families.

For the service member who has passed and the family left behind, this last humble act by the Wyoming National Guard’s Honor Guard is the culminating act of gratitude from a nation built on the selfless service and sacrifices of our men and women the United States armed forces.

If you would like more information about military funeral honors, contact the Wyoming Army National Guard Funeral Honors at (307) 772-5136 or visit https://www.wyomilitary.wyo.gov/veterans/militaryfuneralhonors-2/.

WY I Serve - CFD Volunteer

Video by Master Sgt. Jacqueline Marshall, State Public Affairs Specialist

Wyoming Soldier competes in national competition

By Cpl. Mikailla Brownfield, 197th Public Affairs Detachment

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — On July 18, Spc. Aiden Carroll, a Horizontal Construction Engineer with the 133rd Engineering Company in Laramie, made the journey from the rocky plains of Wyoming to the beautiful mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona. His mission? To compete in and win the 2021 Army National Guard National Best Warrior Competition held July 19-23.

Carroll already had two victories under his belt. He placed first in the Wyoming state competition in April, and again in the Region Six competition in Oregon at the beginning of June. From those previous wins, he knew this competition was going to be tough. But he was determined to put in all his effort, representing his home state to the best of his abilities.

Even with the prior experience, the national competition was as tough as ever. Over five days in Arizona, Carroll and 13 other competitors participated in a multitude of tasks that pushed them to their limits, both physically and mentally.

“It was quite a bit harder, with long days and not much rest.” Carroll said, “We spent a lot of time preparing for the next day late at night.”

There were over 20 events, each with its own set of challenges. The Soldiers competed in everything from a three-gun challenge to testing their abilities in combat water survival. For Carroll, the worst event was the never-ending ruck march. It was one of the final events held on the fourth day of the competition.

“We were on the ruck and thought it was going to be short, so I was moving at a good pace,” Carroll said. “By the time we got back to base, we had someone on the side of the road give us some advice to pace ourselves. My legs were killing me. It sucked, but we made it through.” He noted that the way he pushed through is just remembering to embrace the suck.

But, even with the events pushing them past their limits, the soldiers attending still managed to enjoy themselves. The competitors made fast friends with one another, Carroll said. They helped each other through the many struggles during the events.

Not only did the Soldiers participate in new and exciting events and make some friends along the way, but they were also able to represent their states to the best of their abilities. They showed others what their state is capable of.

“He put 100 percent effort into everything he did,” said 1st Sgt. Glenn Worley, the 1st Sgt. for the 133rd Engineering Company, when talking about Carroll. “He’s the perfect face for the enlisted Soldiers of the Wyoming Guard.”

Now, in the end, this is a competition and a winner must be named. After the five days of brutal competition were over, and the Soldiers had exhausted themselves in all aspects, they sat together at the banquet, waiting to discover who would be named Soldier of the Year and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, respectively.

The Soldier and NCO who distinguished themselves from the elite pack of guardsmen at the competition were Sgt. William Lukens, a Tactical Power Generator Mechanic with the 208th Area Medical Support Company out of Tennessee and Staff Sgt. Zachery Carlson, a Special Forces Engineer with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group out of Utah.

The winners will move on to compete in the Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition, where they will go head to head with the winners of the Army Reserve and Active Duty Army competitors who won their respective competitions.

As for Carroll, he’s looking forward to his chance at competing again as an NCO. “I plan to take a few years off from this competition,” he said. “Hopefully, I can help other Soldiers who want to compete, then take another run at it myself once I’m an NCO.”

Honors held for crew of World War II B-24 Liberator

by Sgt. Stew Dyer, State Public Affairs Office

CASPER, Wyo. — Taps reverberates across the wild grass and sagebrush as family and friends honor the crew of a B-24J Liberator during a memorial ceremony held at the crash site south of Casper, Wyoming, July 24, 2021. The crash site has been lost since the initial cleanup 76 years ago. A team of six soldiers from the Wyoming Army National Guard Military Funeral Honors Program made a full honors presentation.

Eight United States Army Air Forces B-24J Liberators took off from Casper Army Air Base (CAAB) on a cold afternoon on Jan. 1, 1945. Due to sustained winds and icy weather, only one plane returned to the CAAB. Six others landed at alternate safe locations; however, one became lost with no communications.

A Civil Air Patrol pilot found the downed plane on Jan. 3, 1945, but because of weather and snow, no one was able to reach the crash site until Jan. 5, 1945. Unfortunately, nothing could be done for the six-person crew. The crew included: 2nd Lt. Robert E. Murchison, pilot, 2nd Lt. Harold B Paulk, co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Reed L Bludworth, navigator, 2nd Lt. Reuben J Clark, bombardier, Cpl. Eugene J. Opala, engineer, and Cpl. Robert S Hilliard, operator.

The Army Air Forces report of the crash suggests that the crew became disoriented in the weather and thought they were descending toward Casper but were much farther south, and closer to the ground.

Then they crashed into a rise and slid down a snowy hill for 1500 feet before stopping at Bates Creek.

“The importance of a mission is not dependent on the proximity to where the greatest action is,” said Chaplain Lt. Col. Rob Peterson during his memorial address. “We owe a debt of gratitude to this crew of six that went down 76 years ago, they gave us the last full measure of their devotion, their sacrifice here will not be forgotten.”

The Murchison crash is one of three lost historical crash sites in Wyoming that the Friends of the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum, a nonprofit organization that works with the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum, identified along with the Colorado Aviation Historical Society.

The two organizations are researching other historical crash sites in the area. They plan to place roadside information boards at rest stations near the sites that provide crash details and honors the sacrifice of their crews. “It is important for these lost stories to be remembered,” said Joe MacGuire, president of the Friends of the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum.

The sign for the Murchison crash will be placed at the Shirley Basin Rest Area. For more information visit the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum website https://www.wyomilitary.wyo.gov/veterans/museums/vets-museum/ or call 307-472-1857

Above PAR: How one team demonstrates readiness

Story by Airman 1st Class Kylee Warren, 153rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Colt Run Exercise 2021

“Attention on Base,” a loud static-coated voice echoed over the intercom. “Alarm Red, Alarm Red, MOPP Level 4.”

A strobe of light flickered from above. Lights went off, doors slammed down the hallway, and airmen hustled around their darkened workspace to don black gas masks and matching rubber gloves.

After a long wait and two more announcements, three individuals ushered their way down a corridor. They collected a bag of supplies, passed two armed guards and exited through the double doors. Once in the smoky Cheyenne atmosphere, this PAR team looked for clues to tell them what caused the attack and which threats still lingered in the air.

The attack wasn’t real-world, but instead a simulation during a 5-day military exercise at the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153D Airlift Wing in Cheyenne. The MOPP, or mission-oriented protective posture, alarm gave a chance for airmen to get experience putting on shielding equipment so they would be ready during an actual attack. Luckily, real-world Cheyenne was safe. The smoke hazing the air resulted from distant forest fires and not the remnants of a real attack.

Even though there was no real-world threat, the PAR team served one of many essential deployment functions as if the attack really happened.

U.S. Air National Guard photos by Airman 1st Class Kylee Warren

“PAR, or post-attack reconnaissance, is important because it is the pre-emptive response to ensure the safety of the base after the attack,” said 2nd. Lt. Lindsey Johnson, Medical Service Corps Officer for the 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. Johnson was tasked as one of three airmen responsible for serving the primary PAR team for this exercise.

Before the exercise, the PAR team received specialized training. The team then performed pre-attack actions to familiarize themselves with the area they would survey after an attack. They accounted for equipment or vehicles along their route, and they cleared hazards and any object that might be mistaken for ordnance. Finally, they set up materials that detected the nature of the attack.

After any attack, the PAR team must perform its functions before the base can get back to work. “A thorough PAR sweep allows the base to safely return to operations, so it’s important to do our job quickly and thoroughly,” said Technical Sergeant Sterling Law, an Aeromedical Technician with the 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron who served on the PAR team. Law said that the field data also informs key decision-makers on how to respond to the attack and protect the base.

“Information needs to be relayed to everyone safely,” said Technical Sergeant Andrew Chester, a Medical Administrator for the 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. Chester performed key communications for the PAR team during field investigations.

“The entire base is depending on you to do your job and you must look out for what can harm your base, whether it be environmental contamination or an improvised explosive device,” Chester said. “It may seem trivial during an exercise, but in reality, it would be critical.” The PAR team demonstrated their readiness effectively, even when they were met with the unexpected. In one post-attack scenario, the PAR team encountered a vehicle that was not present during their pre-attack sweep.

“It was strange trying to handle that situation,” Johnson said. “In a real-world deployment environment, the vehicle could have been contaminated or filled with explosives.”

The team reported the vehicle’s presence to base decision-makers, stood back and waited in the field for further instruction, Johnson said. While this was only an exercise, it also simulated the actions any airman might be tasked to perform in the event of a real-world attack, Johnson said.

“It’s easy to think ‘well, this is an exercise,’ or get frustrated, but the reality is this is training that needs to be taken seriously,” Johnson said. “You don’t know if you are going to be on a PAR team someday, and you need to know how to act to ensure the safety of all.”

Like so many teams at the 153D, the PAR team demonstrated that they were ready to perform in their jobs, communicate and relay information that may save lives in a real-world scenario. They proved they were more prepared to act in a deployed environment. The PAR team’s performance was just one example of how many groups across the Wyoming Air National Guard demonstrated their capabilities to operate in a deployment scenario during enemy threats and attacks.

“The purpose (of this exercise) is to look at how we survive and operate in an environment that isn’t always conducive to surviving and operating,” said Colonel Barry Deibert, the Commander of the 153D Airlift Wing. Airmen across all functions were asked to demonstrate their jobs despite the distraction of a simulated wartime situation. They went into the exercise knowing how to react, even if they did not know what to expect.

The whole point of the exercise is preparedness, Johnson said. In the case of the PAR team, that point was achieved. “We are more confident if something were to happen after this exercise,” Chester said as the exercise came to a close.

Col. Deibert also acknowledged his gratitude for the airmen across the wing who worked hard to demonstrate their readiness during the exercise. “I appreciate this wing,” Deibert said. “I’m in awe every day when I can see what we can do, and I wish us the best with the future.”

Local leaders learn about the WYMD

Photos's by Master Sgt. Jacqueline Marshall

In July, Alyssa Hinckley, Director of State Public Affairs, coordinated Leadership Cheyenne and Leadership Wyoming. The event allows participants to learn how to develop into community leaders and introduces them to the military community.

During their visit, the class members toured the base and learned about the Wyoming Army and Air National Guard capabilities and their role in the community. They also got get some hands-on time with equipment.

Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce designed the Leadership Cheyenne program to promote a better understanding of the community, build and enhance leadership skills and develop a strong network of future community leaders. At the end of the day, participants broaden their perspectives and gained a better understanding of the guard's missions here in Wyoming. 

Thank you to all the military and community members who came out to support this event. View and download any of the images on our Flickr 👉 https://flic.kr/s/aHsmWfTPSR

Let's take a Minute for Safety: Workplace Safety Tip

Yellow Tails head west

Video by Master Sgt. Jacqueline Marshall, State Public Affairs Specialist

Members assigned to the 153d Airlift Wing prepare and load a C-130 Hercules aircraft with a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) at the Wyoming Air National Guard base, Cheyenne, Wyo. July 19, 2021. The USDA Forest Service activated the MAFFS-equipped C-130H aircraft through a DoD request for assistance and will be operating out of McClellan Park, Calif., the MAFFS teams are managed by First Air Force (Air Forces Northern)’s 153rd Air Expeditionary Group.

Photos by Technical Sgt. Jon Alderman, 153rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

67th Army Band commander retires after 35 years

by Sgt. Stew Dyer, State Public Affairs Office

WHEATLAND, Wyo. – U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Phillips, hung up his mandolin on 35 years of dedication and service to the military. He was honored during a retirement ceremony at the Wheatland Armory, Wyo., on July 3, 2021.

Phillips started his career as a euphonium player in the 1st Marine Division Band. He then joined the Marine Corps Reserve as an Air Support Operator, before transferring to the Colorado Army National Guard in 1991. Phillips was selected for Warrant Officer Candidate School and took command of Colorado’s 101st Army Band in 2001.

Later in 2012, Phillips transferred to the Wyoming Army National Guard and took command of the 67th Army Band. He led the band on a rewarding journey until he retired as a CW4 in September 2020.

“My time in the military is a cherished part of my life,” said Phillips.

Phillips’ love of music wasn’t just in uniform. He is a retired music educator who spent 30 years teaching young musicians. Phillips co-directs the Jeffco Community Band, as well as, performs with the Jeffco Brass, and the local senior community – where his wife works.

For retirement, Phillips plans to keep his workout routine with friends, while still volunteering his time, and musical talents, in his community. He is also looking forward to spending his free weekends with his wife.

“My thanks to the Wyoming Army National Guard for allowing me to extend my career,” said Phillips. “I am grateful for the time spent with the Soldiers of the 67th Army Band. If I was magically young again I would do it all over.”


Photos by Sgt. Kristina Kranz and Sgt. Stew Dyer

Educators from around the state join Wyoming Army and Air National Guard service members for the Educator Leadership Rendevous at Camp Guernsey Training Center in Guernsey Wyo., August 3, 2021.

Educators are participating in military familiarization to help open up communications between Wyoming educators and the Wyoming Military Department as well as break down military stereotypes.

Employee Spotlight: Misty Malmborg

by Sgt. Stew Dyer, State Public Affairs Office

The Wyoming Military Department (WMD) has many diverse positions located across the entire state of Wyoming. They are all connected by the same mission of being the sword and shield. But, they also have another link….funding. Cheyenne native, Misty Malmborg is the State Business/Budget Manager for the WMD and helps ensure the fiscal security in budgeting and financing. Misty has been with the state for over 15 years with most of that time being an integral member of the WMD.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Malmborg to chat a little bit about her job, her life outside of work, and what has kept her around for that long.

Q: What do you do at the Wyoming Military Department? A: I prepare and submit the WMD budget annually. I also ensure that the State Fiscal Department has the funds available to meet all fiduciary obligations.

Q: What motivates you to wake up and go to work? A: I love my job and working to support the guard. The job and the people motivate me.

Q: What has been your favorite project so far? A: Budgeting and the building of the Joint Force Readiness Center here in Cheyenne was a complex project that brought a lot of people to the table. The project had many moving parts. This project has been my favorite so far, but I imagine there will be more to come in the years to follow.

Q: How does your position impact the Wyoming Military Department and further the Wyoming National Guard? A: I ensure that we have the necessary funds in our state budget to pay all obligations for both state and federal cooperative agreements while maximizing the federal funds reimbursed.

Q: What’s something most people don’t know about you? A: I love being outdoors, whether snowmobiling, camping, taking out the side by side or ATV or riding my two horses. I also have two grown children with awesome spouses and hope to be a grandma someday.

Q: What is something most folks don’t know about your position? A: Even though we deal with mostly federal funds, both federal and state funding are requested through the State Budget Office before going to the governor and legislators for their review, guidance, and ideally approval.

Q: How long have you lived in Wyoming? A: All of my life.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of working where you do? A: I enjoy making sure that we are providing the best possible training facilities for our National Guard members.

Q: What is your favorite part about being in the Wyoming Military Department? A: I enjoy supporting our National Guard members and their families.

WY I Serve: Making an impact through volunteering

Sgt. Kristina Kranz, State Public Affairs Office

Serving the country as well as the community goes hand in hand in the National Guard. It’s also common for service members to volunteer in their community when not on duty. Once a year, Maj. Cory Castle, dusts off his cowboy boots and hat, dawns a pearl snap shirt, and heads out to the “Daddy of ‘em All” to volunteer for Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Castle has loved rodeos ever since he was little. Coming from a military family, he didn’t have the opportunity to grow up around it. His dad is also a big fan, so would load him and his siblings up and head to the rodeo any chance they got. Fast forward many years, and with multiple different duty stations, Castle and his family end up in Cheyenne. It was then that he was asked by a friend if he’d be interested in volunteering for the big show.

"A buddy of mine, who I’ve known for a long time, talked to me and invited me out," Castle says. “I did a couple of days in 2009, became interested and he signed me up. I’ve been there ever since.”

For 125 years, Cheyenne has played host to CFD, bringing in over half a million people from all over the world each year to enjoy the western way of life. It is an opportunity to step into the Cowboy culture and connect with the western heritage. Centered in that culture is the rodeo. For 10 straight days, cowboys and cowgirls compete in one of the largest outdoor rodeos in the world, and it’s run entirely by volunteers. Over 2,500 volunteers work year-round to make the Daddy of ‘em All happen.

This year marks 12 years Castle has served as a volunteer. Currently, he serves on the Public Relations Committee. As a lead, he helps make sure all of the shifts are filled and that other subcommittees have what they need in order to operate. The committee also coordinates and escorts media, as well as lends a hand to other committees if they are short-staffed or need additional personal.

It's hard work. Volunteers sometimes start at 7 a.m. and work until the night show ends. Putting in 12 to 18 hour days is common. But to Castle, it’s worth it.

“I think being part of the rodeo, even if it’s just a small piece of it, you get some satisfaction.” Castle continued, “I think the biggest piece for me is the friendships and the camaraderie that we have. I’ve made a lot of lifelong friends through this organization that I probably wouldn’t have had outside of the military.”

Castle’s volunteer efforts have made an impact. He was nominated for Volunteer of the Year in 2018 but ended up deploying soon after. After he came back, he was nominated, selected, and inducted into the Heels class of 2020.

There are 10 different CFD committees that make the show happen. From those committees, individuals can be nominated to become a member of the Heels group, as recognition for years of dedicated service and making an impact on the CFD organization. The Heels were formed back in 1936 for the sole purpose of recognizing volunteers that dedicate their work and are committed to the success and continuation of CFD.

“It’s a pretty high honor. I was extremely humbled to be nominated, let alone selected,” Castle says. “I will continue to work just as hard as I always have. Being a Heel doesn’t relieve me of my duties.”

Castle also explained how large the tie to the military is for CFD. The organization goes well out of its way to make sure the military is recognized and incorporates service members as much as possible.

While volunteering at CFD is a tremendous commitment in itself, the sacrifices made while serving are beyond compare. Being gone on deployments, training or schools, you miss out on a lot of important life events. Apart from that, Castle says his 25-year career in the military has been nothing but positive. He’s always had good leaders that have taken him under his wing, and his family has always been taken care of. They’ve found different ways to celebrate those missed events.

Castle plans to continue volunteering at CFD for as long as he is able and said that even if he moves away, he’ll still find a way to come back. As for his service in the military, and why he continues to do so, he says this, “You learn that in the military there are sacrifices that need to be made. I would argue that I’m the most fortunate person in the world that I have a family who wholeheartedly supports what I do, in every aspect. That’s why I continue to do what I do.”

ANG Outstanding First Sergeant of the Year: MSgt. John Stegen

By Senior Airman Lee Murphy, 153d Airlift Wing

CHEYENNE, Wyoming -- The United States Air Force is the second-largest branch of the U.S. military. It supports over 500,000 total personnel across active duty, Reserve, and Guard. Out of all those uniformed members, only a few can stand out above the rest.

In the Air National Guard, this individual is awarded the Air National Guard Outstanding Airman of the Year award, and it is a crowning achievement that stands as a testament to that individual’s dedication to military service.

This year, the award for Outstanding First Sergeant of the Year was earned by Master Sgt. John Stegen, a first sergeant with the 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and a native Hawaiian, attached to the 153d Airlift Wing here in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Stegen is a veteran of the force with over 17 years of service, across both active and Guard. Stegen joined the military in 2004, and was formerly in the Security Forces career field before moving to aeromedical as a first sergeant.

Stegen’s reasons for joining the military were selfless, as expected from someone who would go on one day to earn an award such as this one.

“I felt like a bigger calling was to be a member of the military because not many people did it back then,” said Stegen. “17 years later, I’m still doing it because it’s something good, and because I truly enjoy it.”

The award itself represents the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to duty, and it is no small feat.

“Winning this award was a humbling experience and a surprise,” said Stegen, “At this level, it is more about my troops than myself, so I felt like I was just doing my job.”

But as he has grown in his career, his aspirations followed. Now, his goals align more with preparing the future generations of Airmen to follow in his footsteps. Because for Stegen, service isn’t just about himself.

“For me, as the time passes, you start progressing in your career, and start leading the troops, it’s less about you and more about the troops because they’re the future,” said Stegen, “It’s not just checking boxes, it’s having the personality, the emotional intelligence, the knowledge of leadership.”

When asked what wisdom he would impart to the younger Airmen of the force, he said, “Be true to yourself, set smart, realistic goals and make sure you have a strong support system at home.”

“Make sure your goals are achievable, but not easy,” said Stegen. “Challenge yourself, and look for opportunities.”

Stegen’s service to the force and to his fellow Airmen embodies the core values instilled in each of us from our first day in uniform: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.

Looking to the future, Stegen stated that younger Airmen need to remember to always ask for feedback and continue to strive to be their very best selves in all their endeavors. If we continue to do that, that will strengthen the force overall. Because, after all is said and done, it is really not the award itself that is most important, it is the years of service and sacrifice, and the dedication to his Airmen that it represents. It is that model of selfless service and dedication to others that we should all strive to emulate, in and out of uniform.

If you missed the retiree council conference, you can watch it by clicking on the link below.


We are very excited to announce the launch of our newly designed website. Visit us at https://www.wyomilitary.wyo.gov/

After four months of hard work and dedication by our very own Sgt. Kristina Kranz, we are delighted to officially announce the launch on October 1, 2021. We wanted to make the new website modern, easier to navigate, and more user-friendly.

Wyoming National Guard History: The Story of Us

by 1Lt. Collin Nakos, State Historian, Public Affairs Office

Each quarter, The Story of Us will take you into the past and provide you with a unique piece of WYNG military history.

9/11 Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Riverton, WY

On September 11, Patriot Day gives all of us time to reflect on the devastating terror attacks that took nearly 3,000 lives. We commemorate those who we lost and give thanks to the brave first responders who put their lives on the line.

Wyoming Guardsmen assigned to augment airport security

The Wyoming National Guard immediately answered the call to defend and serve our nation in the face of the 9/11 terror attacks. Army and Air Guardsmen provided additional security at Wyoming's airports and at bases around the United States. Our Air Guard was among the first in the nation to resume flying on September 12th as it ferried blood donations from around the country to New York City. Since 9/11, Wyoming Guardsmen have fought in and supported numerous operations abroad in Global War on Terror. The victims and first responders who lost their lives on 9/11 will not be forgotten, nor will the brave service members of Wyoming and the United States who have sacrificed their lives in defense of our nation.


Listen to the newest podcasts on our website.

Upcoming CLASSES Fall 2021

Classes brought to you by WYMD HRO


Planning for Retirement Sept. 23, @0900 | JFHQ Rosebud


WYMD Awards Ceremony Guernsey | Oct. 13 @1000 |RTI Auditorium

WYMD Awards Ceremony Cheyenne | Oct. 14 @1000 JFHQ Auditorium

Please RSVP with Marlene Lawson via email marlene.l.lawson.civ@mail.mil or call 307-772-5026

Looking for your event or retirement photos?

follow us on social media

Created By
Public Affairs Office


State, Wing and Guernsey PA Staff