Happy Hooligans announce Outstanding Airman of the Year winners

  • Published
  • By Capt. Penny Ripperger
  • 119th Wing Public Affairs
The Happy Hooligans announced the Outstanding Airman of the Year (OAY) winners at their annual OAY Banquet yesterday evening at the Courtyard by Marriot in Moorhead.

"We're here tonight to recognize the outstanding efforts and exceptional work that all of you do. I thank you for your contributions not only to support the state, but also the nation," said Maj.Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, N.D. adjutant general.

Out of 12 nominees, only three Airmen walked away with the title of Airman of the Year (Airmen with the rank of Airman Basic to Senior Airman), Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year (Airmen with the rank of Staff Sgt. to Tech.Sgt.) and Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year (Airmen with the rank of Master Sgt. to Chief Master Sgt.).

Senior Airman Erik R. Foss, Minot, N.D. received the honor of Airman of the Year. Foss is the full-time training instructor for the newly established 219th Security Forces Squadron located in Minot. Foss joined the N.D. Air Guard in 2007 after graduating from Max Public School, Max, N.D. that same year. Currently, he attends Park University working on his bachelor of science degree in business administration.

Staff Sgt. Wesley J. Heit, Bismarck, N.D. received the honor of Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. Heit serves as a crew chief assigned to the Aerospace Maintenance Squadron. Heit joined the N.D. Air National Guard in 2005 after graduating from Bismarck High School in 2004. He is currently a full-time student at the University of North Dakota and a member of the Magna Cum Laude Honor Society, working on his master's degree in business administration.

Master Sgt. Shane J. Amundson, West Fargo, N.D. received the honor of Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. Amundson is the full-time fuels flight chief for the Fuels Management and Distribution Flight at the 119th Wing. Amundson joined the N.D. Air Guard in 1992. The Fuels Management and Distribution Flight was the first three-time recipient of the American Petroleum Institute Award, which is an award given to the best fuels management flight in the U.S. Air Force.

In addition, Master Sgt. Michelle R. Nicklay, Fargo, received the Career Advisor of the Year award and Master Sgt. Gary W. Weis, Jamestown, N.D. received the First Sergeant of the Year award at the banquet.

Chief Master Sgt. Mark S. Brejcha, the 412th Test Wing command chief from Edwards Air Force Base in Calif. was the guest speaker at the banquet. Brejcha served as the command chief for the 91st Missile Wing, Minot Air Force Base from 2006-2008.

"It is so good to be back here in North Dakota. The pinnacle assignment of my career was my time in this state. That was by far the best time that I had in my life. I got to know the wonderful men and women of Minot and also share a lot of my time with the Happy Hooligans," said Brejcha.

It was during Brejcha's time in North Dakota that the Happy Hooligans started the 219th Security Forces Squadron, a North Dakota Air National Guard squadron operated by Happy Hooligans located at Minot Air Force Base.

"I'm on a date tonight with my wife. She flew in from California to be here with me. She had a choice between Cancun and Fargo and she chose Fargo," said Brejcha, resonating laughter in the audience.

Later in the evening the laughter continued when Sprynczynatyk commented that he too would choose Fargo over Cancun. In his closing comments he added, "The Happy Hooligans have never failed in a mission and as I look to the future, I know it will be even better than the past."

For more information about this news release, contact Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing public affairs officer at 701-451-2194.