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Outstanding Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Joel Kelsay

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Senior Airman Joel Kelsay, a loadmaster assigned to the 180th Airlift Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, poses for a photo Jan. 6, 2020. Kelsay was selected as the 139th Airlift Wing’s 2021 Outstanding Airman of the Year. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Crane)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. --

The 139th Airlift Wing announced Senior Airman Joel Kelsay, a loadmaster assigned to the 180th Airlift Squadron, as the wing’s 2021 Outstanding Airman of the Year on Dec. 22, 2020. 

Kelsay graduated basic loadmaster school in December 2018. Since then he has deployed to the Middle East where he has flown 153 hours, 101 sorties, airlifted 339 tons of cargo and transported 402 passengers in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Kelsay’s attention to detail, leadership skills, and expertise were recognized by his chain of command as he was awarded the wing’s 2021 Outstanding Airman of the Year.

“My biggest piece of advice would be to pay attention to detail,” said Kelsay. “Try to be observant as possible and ask important questions.”

As a diligent learner who credits his knowledge to the training given by his supervisors, Kelsay quickly became an educational leader, team mentor, and outstanding Airman. 

He led multiple study groups for Airmen to improve their job knowledge and help prepare war ready loadmasters. 

“I really like to be the kind of leader who takes the initiative and goes out of my way to help new people understand the job and feel more at home,” said Kelsay. “I try to help mentor people like how my supervisors helped me when I first came in.”

Kelsay performed 75 days of state emergency duty by delivering meals and supplies to the local community during the COVID-19 crisis.

“To receive this award, it definitely feels like people are seeing the work you put in day in and day out,” said Kelsay. “People are seeing some of the behind the scenes stuff and the consistency that I try to bring to the unit every time I come to work.”

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