Happy Hooligans recognize Outstanding Airmen of the Year

From left to right, Col. Darrin Anderson, the 119th Wing commander, Staff Sgt. Evan Shook, of the 119th Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Group, Airman 1st Class Ethan Kieffer, the 119th Wing Airman of the Year, Staff Sgt. Ethan Johnson, the 119th Wing Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Senior Master Sgt. Candice Blaze, the 119th Wing Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Master Sgt. Kari Appletoft, of the 119th Operations Group, and Chief Master Sgt. Duane Kangas, the 119th Wing command chief, pose for a photo during the annual unit enlisted recognition banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn, Fargo, N.D. March 7, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H Lipp)‚Äč

The North Dakota Air National Guard, known as the "Happy Hooligans", recognized the organization's top Airmen, during its 2019 Outstanding Airman of Year banquet, on March 7 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fargo.

Airmen were nominated for the awards based on their military and civic service throughout 2019. Awards were presented for Unit Career Advisor of the Year, First Sergeant of the Year, Outstanding Airman of the Year, Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Outstanding Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Several distinguished guests attended the event and were treated to entertainment by the North Dakota National Guard's 188th Army Band. The Assistant Adjutant General for Air and the 119th Wing Commander rendered remarks.

"This evening was a great way to celebrate the success of our organization as a whole, and to give special recognition to our Airmen of the Year nominees and winners," said Col. Darrin Anderson, 119th Wing commander. "Thanks to all the unit members, and also thanks to the families, who support our efforts and make our success possible."

Staff Sgt. Evan Shook was named Unit Career Advisor of the Year for his individual efforts and achievement with unit retention and career motivation program management. Master Sgt. Kari Appletoft was named First Sergeant of the Year, which recognizes the important contributions and leadership qualities exhibited by first sergeants in the Air Force.

The award presentation honoring the three Outstanding Airmen of the Year winners followed: Airman 1st Class Ethan Kieffer was named Outstanding Airman of the Year, Staff Sgt. Ethan Johnson was named Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Senior Master Sgt. Candice Blaze was named Outstanding Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.