FARGO, N.D. — The North Dakota Air National Guard, known as the “Happy Hooligans”, recognized the organization’s top Airmen, during its 2019 Outstanding Airman of Year banquet, on March 7 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fargo.
Airmen were nominated for the awards based on their military and civic service throughout 2019. Awards were presented for Unit Career Advisor of the Year, First Sergeant of the Year, Outstanding Airman of the Year, Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Outstanding Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Several distinguished guests attended the event and were treated to entertainment by the North Dakota National Guard’s 188th Army Band. The Assistant Adjutant General for Air and the 119th Wing Commander rendered remarks.
“This evening was a great way to celebrate the success of our organization as a whole, and to give special recognition to our Airmen of the Year nominees and winners,” said Col. Darrin Anderson, 119th Wing commander. “Thanks to all the unit members, and also thanks to the families, who support our efforts and make our success possible.”
Staff Sgt. Evan Shook was named Unit Career Advisor of the Year for his individual efforts and achievement with unit retention and career motivation program management. Master Sgt. Kari Appletoft was named First Sergeant of the Year, which recognizes the important contributions and leadership qualities exhibited by first sergeants in the Air Force.
The award presentation honoring the three Outstanding Airmen of the Year winners followed: Airman 1st Class Ethan Kieffer was named Outstanding Airman of the Year, Staff Sgt. Ethan Johnson was named Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Senior Master Sgt. Candice Blaze was named Outstanding Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
Airman 1st Class Ethan Kieffer
Airman 1st Class Ethan Kieffer enlisted in the North Dakota Air National Guard in 2017 and serves as a crew chief in the 119th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
Kieffer was raised in Casselton and currently resides in Mapleton. He is a senior at North Dakota State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural economics.
Staff Sgt. Ethan Johnson
Staff Sgt. Ethan Johnson joined the North Dakota Air National Guard in 2010 and serves as an explosive ordnance disposal technician in the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron.
Johnson was born in Valencia, California, and raised in Stevensville, Montana. He currently resides in Fargo, where he works full-time for the North Dakota Air National Guard.
Senior Master Sgt. Candice Blaze
Senior Master Sgt. Candice Blaze joined the North Dakota Air National Guard in 1996 and serves as the base education and training manager in the 119th Force Support Squadron.
Blaze was raised in Felton, Minnesota, and currently resides in Dilworth, Minnesota. She is employed full-time at the North Dakota Air National Guard.
The North Dakota National Guard is a trained and highly motivated force of about 4,000 Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen. We are always prepared to provide ready units, individuals and equipment in support of our communities, state and nation. Always ready, always there.