AFRL honors 11 military members
By John Spann, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 17, 2011
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo- -- More than 500 business people, community leaders and military members were on hand May 13, 2011 to honor 11 military members for their service during the Aurora Chamber's 35th Annual Armed Forces Recognition Luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
This year's winners include Air Force Active Duty SSgt. Brandon Mejia, 460th Security Forces Squadron; Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. Manuel R. Zubia, Headquarters, Air Reserve Personnel Center; Air National Guard SSgt. Marcus Smith, 137th Space Warning Squadron in Greeley; Army Reserve SSgt. Jonathan M. Rowe - 2nd Battle Command Training Group, 5th Brigade 75th Division; Army Active Duty Sgt. Melissa A. Obcena, 743rd Military Intelligence Battalion; Army Guard Spec. Ryan L. Teter, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Front Range Airport; Navy Reserve Information Technician First Class James P. Reisenburg, Navy Operations Support Center, Denver; Navy Active Duty Aviation Machinist's Mate Second Class Luis Talavera, NOSC Denver; Marine Reserve Corporal Ryan Corbett, Quebec Battery 5th Battalion 14th Marines; Marine Active Duty Lance Corporal Jordan Huerta, Marine Air Control Squadron 23; and Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Coffin, Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit Colorado.
Also singled out for special recognition was Bernie Rogoff, who received the Bob Cardenas Award for exceptional support of the military in the Metro area. Rogoff serves as the Executive Director of the Education Foundation for the Colorado National Guard.
The crowd heard an inspiring presentation by Aurora Public Schools Superintendent retired Air Force Maj. Gen. John Barry, who in addition to his 30-year career as a combat veteran and fighter pilot was named the 2011 Colorado Superintendent of the Year.
"I am honored and humbled to be part of this recognition of our military members," said Mr. Barry. "This luncheon is our way to let our military men and women in the area know how much we value them."
He broke his speech into three categories: tradition, transition and people.
"Tradition is important to all of us in this country. It is important to pass those traditions onto our sons and daughters.
Regarding transition, he asked the audience to "challenge the known and embrace the unknown, to seek innovation in our military to advance freedom and justice throughout the world."
Lastly he spoke of the most critical element, people. "Even though we have a lot of technology, people are the most important resource we have. You are the best educated force that we've ever had in our country. He charged all to be bold, decisive and courageous in your actions."
Colorado U.S. Senator Mark Udall also passed his gratitude to the audience. "As a member of the Senate Armed Services committee, we are all grateful to all of you who serve. It's gratitude without limit. We still have work to do in Afghanistan and we have continuing progress for the Iraqi people to enjoy freedom like we do. I am so proud of all of you."
Master of Ceremony duties were performed by the popular KEZW Radio personality Rick Crandall, an Air Force veteran, who has volunteered for the event for the past nine years.
"It is the only one of its kind in this area," stated Kevin Hougen, Aurora Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer. "Working with the local units, we select the best of the best in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard as well as their Reserve and Guard components and present them an award, lots of recognition and some gifts from the community at large."