Tinker captain wins ACC award

  • Published
  • By Kimberly Woodruff
  • Tinker Public Affairs
A pilot with the 552nd Operations Group has taken home the 2015 Airlift Tanker Association Young Leadership Award for Air Combat Command.

Capt. Fernando Nicolalde had an impressive award package that included accomplishments from the last year, from his time as a flight commander for the Aircrew Flight Equipment (formerly known as Life Support) and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape shops, as well as from his deployment to Southwest Asia, where he served as an executive officer with the 380th Expeditionary Operations Group.

"I was part of the turn-around last summer when daily operations transitioned into Iraq and Syria," said the captain.

The package contained approximate-ly 30 bullets over professional leadership and community involvement.

Captain Nicolalde shares the credit for the award with the AFE and SERE Airmen of the 552nd OG.

"These Airmen work behind the scenes, 24 hours a day, to provide the E-3 fleet and aircrew with life sustaining equipment (oxygen masks, life rafts, escape slides, life preservers, anti-exposure suits, weapons issue, and survival kits) and training," said the captain. "Of all my jobs in the Air Force, leading these amazing individuals has been the most fulfilling as they have a drive to serve and prepare aircrew for the very worst."

Captain Nicolalde said he was humbled by the award.

"I have a strong belief in God and his work in my life," he said. "I just concentrate on doing my job to the best of my abilities and give all the glory to Him."

The captain said he's been blessed to be in the right place with the right people at the right time. His success is credited to the positive influence of his leadership.

"Captain Nicolalde is an amazing company grade officer and has done nothing but excel at every opportunity and meet all challenges put in front of him," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Jennings, 552nd Operations Support Squadron commander.

Col. Jay Bickley, 552nd Air Control Wing commander, agrees.

"Being nominated alone is an achievement and to have it topped with a win at the major command level is outstanding," said Colonel Bickley. "Congratulations and best of luck as you represent the 552nd ACW and Air Combat Command at the next level!"