2010 Outstanding Airmen/First Sergeant/Honor Guard Of The Year Award Winners
General Edward Rice, Air Education And Training Command commander and Chief Master Sergeant James Cody, Air Education and Training Command , command chief presents award to SMSgt Mauree C. Powell, from Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base Alabama, as First Sergeant Of The Year. Ceremony was held at the Parr Officer Club at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas on March 18.(U.S. Air Force photo/by Don Lindsey).
Sergeant Powell wins Air Force-level award

by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs

6/24/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, AL -- When Senior Master Sgt. Mauree Powell, the first sergeant of the Holm Center, was named the 2011 Air Force First Sergeant of the Year, she said she was surprised and humbled by the honor.

"Winning this award was an unexpected and overwhelming surprise. I am still in disbelief that something like this could happen to me," Sergeant Powell said. "I see the winners every year and wonder, 'What did they do to achieve such an honor?' Now I am thinking to myself, 'What have I done to achieve such an honor?'"

According to the Air Force Personnel Center, the award is given to Airmen in the first sergeant special duty career field who have made important contributions and exhibit exceptional leadership qualities.

Maj. Gregory Marty, the commander of Air University Headquarters Squadron Section, who nominated Sergeant Powell for the award when she was still Air University Headquarters' first shirt, commended her superior performance, saying that not recommending her was "not an option."

"As their council president, she has earned the respect of her fellow first sergeants, and her devotion to the welfare and development of our enlisted force is second to none, he said. In my 19 years in the Air Force, I have never seen a first sergeant more in tune with the needs of her Airmen. I've seen her show compassion for our troops in ways that will never translate into an award package. Most impressive, perhaps, is that she doesn't do it because it's her job. She does it because it's who she is."

In further praising her leadership and mentorship of Airmen, Major Marty said, "From a commander's perspective, I couldn't have asked for a better adviser in dealing fairly and appropriately with our Airmen. Her intimate knowledge of every Airman in HQ/AU benefited us greatly when tough decisions needed to be made about their futures. Her dedication allowed every decision to be made with the utmost respect and fairness to the individual while ensuring the best interests of the Air Force were met."

Sergeant Powell said the award is a reflection of the people who have inspired her and guided her in her military career.

"I have had some great people in my corner to ensure I made the right decisions and took the right paths," Sergeant Powell said. "My father has a tremendous work ethic. He has been and still is, at the ripe young age of 75, one of the hardest working men I know. My mother's perseverance and fortitude to do better and to push me to do better goes with me wherever I go, no matter what I am doing, and my husband, a retired first sergeant, is and will always be my foundation."

Winning this award hasn't put her at ease, she said. It's encouraged her to go further.

"Winning this award means I have to work even harder to meet and exceed my own expectations. It means that I am in more of a glass house now than I ever was," Sergeant Powell said. "It means I have to work even harder to ensure my Airmen are taken care of in order for the mission to succeed."

Sergeant Powell said she hopes she can encourage Airmen to be the best they can be and take advantage of every opportunity given to them like she did.

"I tell my children and my Airmen all the time, aim higher, shoot for the moon, and even if you land in the stars, you will be among greatness," she said. "Be the best 'you' you can be. Always do your best, maintain a positive professional image and never pass up an opportunity. Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you in order to improve professionally and personally. Doing these things will ensure everything else falls into place."