Guam – A member of the Guam Air National Guard continues to set the trend and show the nation and her Air Force counterparts what an Airman from Guam can accomplish.
TSgt Maria Quitugua was recently picked as one of the 2011 Air Force Outstanding Security Forces Individual Award winners. She was named the 2011 Air Force Reserve Component Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.
Only a few weeks earlier, she was selected as the Air National Guard (ANG) Security Forces NCO of the Year, where she competed against representatives from ANG units from the 54 states and territories, according to a recent announcement from the National Guard Bureau.
Major General Benny M. Paulino, The Adjutant General for the Guam National Guard, expressed pride in the accomplishments of TSgt Quitugua and described her as a model for the Guam Air National Guard.
“First of all, we are very proud and honored that we have a person, a member of the Guam National Guard that can compete at the national level and win. We are very, very proud of her accomplishments.
“From a personal point of view I am just ecstatic that we have this individual who has garnered so many awards and recognition at the national level. It’s like we have a symbol here in the command, a poster child to show that we have somebody here who has been recognized at the national level, a model, an icon, for the command to show off… it’s just awesome, it’s awesome, is all I can say,” said MAJ GEN Paulino.
TSgt Quitugua said her selection for both awards was a humbling experience for her.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to represent my island and National Guard with the honor of winning the Air Reserve Component NCO of the year. It has been a truly humbling experience to attain such an honor and one of great anxiety. Being recognized for such an award leaves me with a feeling of continuous ‘awe’. I have yet to take it all in,” she said.
But, TSgt Quitugua said, she isn’t done yet when it comes to her personal career goals.
“My personal short term goal is to attain promotion to the rank of MSgt/E-7 and my long term goal is to begin my doctorate program, Management in Organizational Leadership.
Col. Johnny Lizama, 254th Air Base Group commander, said TSgt Quitugua and her husband, MSgt Michael M. Quitugua Jr., have done great things for the security forces and the Guam Air Guard as a whole. She and her husband are both members of the 254th Security Forces Squadron, Guam Air National Guard.
“They’re very proactive people… They’ve got their finger on the pulse of what the needs are for the unit. That shows that we’ve got great people in the organization… She started out as an Outstanding Airman and now has evolved into a seasoned NCO. I see great things for her as she progresses up the chain,” said Col. Lizama.
This was not the first key award for TSgt Quitugua.
In 2006, she was selected as the 36th Mission Support Group Federal Woman of the Year, 36th Wing Airman of the Quarter and United States Organization (USO) Guardsman of the Year.
In 2007, she captured the Guam Air National Guard Airman of the Year award. She took the next level competition in the same year, garnering the 2007 Pacific Air Force (PACAF) Total Force Outstanding Airman of the Year, 2007 Air National Guard, and also won the 2007 Air Force Security Forces Air Reserve Component Airman of the Year, Air National Guard.
She credits the support from her family as the key to her accomplishments.
“I attribute my success to my husband and son for allowing me to further my endeavors, military and civilian, as well as a very supportive family support system. In addition, my colleagues throughout my career have, in some way or another, contributed to my success whether negative or positive,” she added.
TSgt Quitugua was also part of an 18-member security forces team which deployed to Kirkuk Regional Air Base in Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, from June 2009 to March 2010.
She works as the support specialist for the GUARNG Yellow Ribbon Program when she is not on active military orders.
TSgt Quitugua has been setting the standard over the past years, according to Capt. Joseph Pangelinan, 254th SFS commander.
“Honestly we are not surprised she is taking this award. She has won it before both at the U.S. Air Force and the NGB level. Her work is exemplary. She sets the standard and it’s something we can all be proud of for the Guard.”