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HQ RIO announces IR of the Year 2021

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tara R. Abrahams
  • HQ RIO Public Affairs
Headquarters Readiness and Integration Organization is proud to announce the 2021 Individual Reservists of the Year awards for the Airman, NCO, senior NCO, and company grade and field grade officer categories.
Every year, Individual Reservists around the world are nominated for this prestigious award and the submissions are judged by a board of senior leaders.
“I can appreciate the scoring system, as well as sanitizing the packages of identifiers, because it allowed me to score without bias,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kimelyn Valley, IROY Senior NCO board member and 403rd Operational Support Squadron first sergeant, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. “Despite the different writing styles, the AIR [action, impact, result] that each IROY candidate made within their respective squadrons, wings, MAJCOMs, and communities was conveyed well.”
This year’s winners had significant accomplishments in their leadership and job performance, self-improvement, and base and community involvement. Their dedicated efforts have earned them the title of 2021 IR of the Year.
HQ RIO is pleased to announce the following Airmen as 2021’s IROY winners:
Senior Airman Cole D. Maresca, Data Science Technician, Air Force Element National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (AFELM NGA), Springfield, Virginia
Maresca’s efforts and accomplishments made long-lasting impacts in the workplace. He refined best practices and directed outreach during development operations and founded the 9S100 presence in the U.S. Space Force sensitive compartmented information facility. He also oversaw his section’s training where he planned and taught three sessions for his team members so everyone was deployable.
He also focused time on helping others in need on base and in the community. Maresca relocated cargo and provided transport for an Airman during his transition from active duty to reserve, and dedicated several hours to assist at a homeless shelter.
HQ RIO has awarded him the title of 2021 IR of the Year for the Airman category.
Tech. Sgt. Derek A. Turner, Installation Patrolman, 45th Security Forces Squadron, Patrick SFB, Florida
Turner was instrumental in his squadron’s readiness and mission. He spearheaded the OCP kit initiative by ordering more than 1,000 pieces of equipment, and managed a $1.1 million resource account with 100% equipment accountability. He also built continuity binders for console operators, which is critical to space operations.
He led more than 50 hours of a construction project to build new enclosures for abandoned animals, as well as managed the budget. Additionally, he accomplished 40 hours of Six Sigma Green Belt training to broaden his managerial and leadership capabilities.
HQ RIO has awarded him the title of 2021 IR of the Year for the NCO category.
Master Sgt. Amber M. Kelley, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Unit Support and Training Manager, United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA)
Kelley drove readiness for more than 400 Airmen by managing Air Force senior leader’s goals to organize, train and equip. She orchestrated cross-MAJCOM intelligence training and mitigated the pandemic’s impact, and led USAFE-AFAFRICA operations planning efforts with ease.
She volunteered for a humanitarian mission with the Red Cross. She was involved with the rescue of more than 35,000 civilians in non-combatant evacuation operations during the evacuee surge.
HQ RIO has awarded her the title of 2021 IR of the Year for the SNCO category.
Capt. Shane A. Boulware, Flight Chief of Construction and Infrastructure, 316th Contracting Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland
Boulware led the contracting office to numerous successes and fulfilled requirements, some routine and some urgent or emergency repairs. He was able to reinitiate global travel for the President of the United States in 15 days, and advised a paint job of several buildings in only four days, beating the contracting standard by 154%.
Outside of his Air Force career, he performed as lead percussionist for a local church and volunteered for a nonprofit organization providing transition benefits for veterans. Boulware also hosted three community events and raised $3,000 for the organization.
HQ RIO has awarded him the title of 2021 IR of the Year for the CGO category.
Lt. Col. Charles D. Solomon, Deputy Branch Chief, Secretary of the Air Force/Acquisitions (SAF/AQI), Washington, D.C.
Solomon played a vital role in a number of successes and improvements last year. He led a team through House Armed Services Committee Staffer Days, facilitated innovative radar acquisitions strategies and tackled Air Moving Target Indicator capability gaps. He also modernized base defense and fast-tracked small unmanned aerial system capabilities, fixing a $42 million shortfall and ensuring 47 bases were ready for flight.
He also dedicated time to his community. He was a camp counselor, assistant football coach and head wrestling coach for nearly 150 children. In addition, Solomon devised the “Rapid Aerial Extraction” tether system to improve rescue capabilities from fixing wing aircrafts, and was awarded a patent through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
HQ RIO has awarded him the title of 2021 IR of the Year for the FGO category.
“It’s amazing to see the contributions the IR community provides to the Total Force mission and their communities.  We truly are impacting every aspect of the Air Force and DoD missions in a way no other segment can, and this year’s winners highlight that contribution,” said Col. Edward “Chad” Segura, HQ RIO commander.