Airman from Bellwood recognized by his command

BELLWOOD – Jeff Hanna is incredibly proud of his son, Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Hanna, for being named the Pacific Air Forces’ Outstanding Airmen of the Year in the airman category.

Proud, certainly. But surprised? Not really.

“He’s one of those kids,” Hanna said. “A very driven individual.”

Twelve enlisted service members from PACAF, a major Air Force command, are selected each year from a pool of 30,000 stationed at bases in Alaska, Hawaii, South Korea, Japan and Guam.

The awards are given based on leadership and job performance skills, significant self-improvement and base or community involvement.

“Recognizing our airmen is one of my greatest pleasures,” said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Pacific Air Forces commander, in a press release. “We are the greatest fighting force in the world, and our asymmetric advantage is our airmen.”

Josh Hanna is an explosive ordnance disposal journeyman with the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron stationed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Hanna pointed to his son’s John Levitow Award as a symbol of Josh’s many accomplishments. He won the honor, given to one student per class as selected by his or her peers, while attending the Air Force’s Airman Leadership School.

Hanna also said his son took online classes through Penn State World Campus during each of his two tours, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, and even made the dean’s list. Josh is slated to graduate in December with a degree in law and society.

Hanna himself is an Air Force veteran, having served from 1982-86, and all three of his sons: Mark, Josh and Adam, followed in his footsteps..

Hanna said while he tried to persuade some of his sons to enter other careers, being in the military was something Josh always wanted to do, “since he was a little guy.” Josh enlisted in 2006.

Josh’s wife, Stephanie Hanna, said leadership comes easy to her husband, but he works hard at any task he’s given, whether at work or volunteering at their church.

Josh said in a base press release that he was sure there were a lot of other candidates who deserved the award as well and was honored to be chosen.

“I had a lot of doors open for me,” he said. “I also had a lot of support from everyone in my flight and my squadron. … To look at this award and say it is something that ‘I’ achieved would be a lie. It couldn’t have happened without them.”

According to Andersen base officials, Josh also received the Combat Action Badge while in Afghanistan for executing 151 joint combat missions and providing suppressive fire while engaging enemy combatants during IED operations.

He also earned Army Commendation and Air Force Achievement medals.

Stephanie said he puts in a lot of hard work to better himself as a person, husband and airman and “he’s not doing it to win awards.”

According to Capt. Kim Bender, operations division chief of PACAF Public Affairs, this award puts Josh in the running for one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year awards.

Those winners will be announced later this year.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.