108th dominates NJANG Airman of the Year competition

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen
  • 108th Wing Public Affairs
     The 108th Wing has swept the New Jersey Air National Guard's Airman of the Year competition.

     Security Force's Master Sgt. Olivia M. McMahon and Global Mobility Squadron's Senior Airman Thomas A. Shea respectively claimed the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer and Airman of the Year slots in this year's contest.

     "McMahon and Shea are great examples of the dynamic, quality people that serve in the 108th," said Wing Commander Col. Robert A. Meyer Jr.

     Both McMahon and Shea are traditional Guardsmen.

     As the state's winners, McMahon and Shea will go on to compete at the national level against the best of the other states and territories. Should they win, they will then compete directly against their active duty and reserve counterparts.

     Both Airmen have strong deployment backgrounds.

     McMahon served as a security forces advisor at the Kandahar Air Wing in Afghanistan. While there, she directed the personal security for the group and wing commanders, as well as the NATO and Afghan Air Force leaders at the base. In addition, McMahon led 28 outside-the-wire-missions, leaving the safer confines of the base and going into enemy-held territory. She also synchronized the Fly Away Security Teams outside the wire missions. FAST teams are required to fly on specific missions when a location requires an extra measure of security to ensure the aircraft and crew are protected from hostile fire or on-board security breaches.

     According to her commander, Lt. Col. Brian Griefer, McMahon is a "hard charging senior NCO" who "epitomizes the Air Force core values".

     "She is driven to excellence," said Chief Master Sgt. Lance C. Endee, 108th Security Forces Manager. "She is constantly moving forward."

     Shea deployed as an aerial port team chief to one of the busiest Department of Defense ports - Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. As a port chief, he was responsible for ensuring that supplies arrived when needed. This was especially critical in the case where supplies needed to be airlifted to remote and in some cases, isolated forward operating bases. During his tour in Afghanistan, he deployed to the United States Marine Corps forward operating base, Camp Dwyer, located in the Helmand River Valley.

     His commander, Lt. Col. Richard E. Friendlich, describes Shea as "mission oriented" and "the first to volunteer to deploy".

     Both Airmen had significant personal accomplishments.

     Shea graduated from Rutgers University with bachelor's degree in psychology with a 3.49 GPA. Using those skills, he develops individualized learning plans for children.
McMahon was chosen by the National Guard Bureau as the top senior NCO in Security Forces for the entire Air National Guard.

     Both McMahon and Shea are heavily involved in their communities. McMahon is a Long Island police officer and participates in the Murph Challenge - named after Long Island resident and Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy - that supports the LT Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation.

     Shea provides mentorship and support to troubled youth for the Papa Ganache Project. In 2014, he helped more than 250 young people. He is a participant in the Colon Cancer Alliance Undy Run, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society-New Jersey Metro Walk, Toys for Tots and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

     New Jersey is definitely well represented in this year's competition.