2002 Airman of the Year
Airman First Class Andrea Quillen
RANDOLPH AFB, Texas - Airman First Class Andrea K. Quillen is junior in rank, but remarkable in her contributions. Performing with distinction in a role usually reserved for higher pay grades, A1C Quillen's "loadmaster skills and impeccable professionalism place her well above her peers," said her commanding officer. "She has a continuous record of exceptional contributions to the squadron, group and wing throughout the year." In the months following the 9/11 attacks, A1C Quillen has flown over 130 hours and 28 sorties carrying 329 combat troops and 1.1 million pounds of cargo in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her performance includes safely loading 9,000 pounds of explosives, five pieces of outsized cargo and 18 passengers, while moving the mission in a little over two hours with a basic crew and minimum ground support.
In one instance, she was responsible for airlifting 200,000 pounds of non-disclosure cargo to a classified location, a job not usually reserved for an E-3. And she repeatedly deploys to hostile environments while delivering critically needed cargo. In another mission, A1C Quillen flawlessly airlifted over 131,000 pounds of cargo and 54 duty passengers into a remote airfield and conducted an engine running offload within 1 hour. She quickly managed difficult on- and offloads of 60,000 pounds of critically needed cargo with ease during Operation Northern Watch, NATO's no-fly zone over Iraq. She has "outstanding airmanship abilities.
She continually searches for the most demanding and challenging missions," says one superior officer. "She's a top-notch professional in whom I have every confidence; I utilize her to man short-notice missions." As a testament to her abilities, A1C Quillen was the only Airman straight out of Technical School to be upgraded to worldwide-qualified, mission-ready loadmaster after only one overseas mission, a phenomenal achievement. She is one of only 10 C-17A loadmasters in the 437th Air Wing selected for night vision goggle training, a unique qualification.
She is "by far my best airman," says her commander. One of her NCOs said "she's just awesome." Off duty, A1C Quillen is involved in her community, an excellent representative of the Air Force. She volunteers for community service at local schools, holiday charity drives, the local Veteran's Administration hospital and as a Big Sister, serving as a positive role model and mentor for youth. Her professionalism, energy and dedication to excellence make A1C Andrea Quillen a top performer and a rising star. She is an outstanding example of the high standards and quality of the men and women serving in the United States Air Force.