Air University assistant IMSO earns Air Force excellence award

  • Published
  • By Phil Berube
  • Air University Public Affairs

The Air Force honored an Air University Airmen for his work in helping the service build relationships around the world one person at a time.

For his accomplishments as International Officer School’s assistant international military student officer, Charles Michaels received the 2019 Air Force International Affairs Excellence Award (Civilian Category II).

Lt. Gen. James Hecker, commander and president of AU, formally presented Michaels with the award on Jan. 26, 2021. (He was to receive the award in early 2020 at an Air Force Association conference, which was changed to a virtual conference because of the pandemic.)

Michaels also directs the IOS Field Studies Program, which familiarizes international students to American society, institutions and ideals through a variety of field trips and events across the state of Alabama and country. He also helps students to process in and out of various AU schools and assists them with any issues or concerns outside the classroom.

The IOS mission is to further Air University’s charge to support and educate international officers and enlisted personnel in direct support of United States security cooperation objectives.

“When we talk partnerships at IOS, we not only talk about the country at large, but we can put names and faces of friends in the conversation,” he said. “As I get to travel with and help them through their time at AU, a true relationship builds.”

In a typical year, Michaels will interact with and affect the lives of a few hundred international students and their families representing more than 60 countries.

One-on-one interaction with students and their families is what he says he likes most about his job, which he has been doing for about 2.5 years.

“I can see a positive impact on the Air Force in my day-to-day interactions with our international partners,” he said. “I’m incredibly humbled that my supervisor saw fit to nominate me and that IOS leadership supported. I am so proud to be part of an amazing IOS team.”

Among his many accomplishments in 2019 that led to the award, Michaels points to two that are significant to him:

  • He assisted with an international student who had a major medical incident, leaving the student incapacitated. He worked with medical staff and defense attaché to have the student medically repatriated from the hospital to the student’s home county.
  • He partnered with multiple city of Montgomery (Ala.), state, industry and federal agencies to build a robust and informative field studies program agenda, such as visiting the U.S. Capitol; the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange; Arlington National Cemetery; U.S. State Department; Alabama Supreme Court and state legislature; and the Federal Reserve.   

“Mr. Michaels earned this award because of the quality of his work, dedication to the mission and the impact he had as he enabled stronger partnerships with participating nations, enhanced partner capacity, improved interoperability and helped set the conditions to improve our position in a great power competition environment,” said Col. Alex Ganster, IOS commandant, and director, AU International Affairs. “As a result, he was instrumental in helping the Air Force build global partnerships one international leader at a time, while delivering a positive and respectful AU experience.”