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Wing’s top Airmen earns state recognition

Master Sgt. John Stone, 139th Airlift Wing, is the Missouri senior non-commisioned officer of the year for 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Bond/Released)

Master Sgt. John Stone, 139th Airlift Wing, is the Missouri senior non-commisioned officer of the year for 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Bond/Released)

ST JOSEPH, Mo. -- His recognition as the 139th Airlift Wing's Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year is superseded. He is now the best in the state.

Not long after he celebrated his accomplishment as the wing's best, Master Sgt. John Stone, from the 139th Security Forces Squadron, learned of his selection as an outstanding Airman for Missouri.

Stone is among six other citizen-Airmen who were selected as the state's Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2010.

"It's humbling," said Stone. "I couldn't give you a reason ... I just keep plugging away doing what I do."

Sergeant Stone is charged with training and standard evaluation for the security forces squadron and serves as a flight chief.

Officials said Stone distinguished himself through his work here and on several overseas contingency operations, as well as in his joint service with the Marine Corps and the Army as a non-lethal weapons instructor.

Originally, he entered the security forces career field through the active duty Air Force, in 1984, where he served for eight years.

After a break in service, Stone joined the Missouri Army Guard 203rd Combat Engineer Heavy Battalion.

"I just wanted to serve again," he said.

He worked as an engineering specialist. At one point, he found himself in Baghdad, Iraq, during the early part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, on security convoys and on engineering missions outside the wire, including major bombing events in the green zone.

In 2004, Stone decided to rejoin the security forces. He enlisted with the Missouri Air Guard here.

Soon, Sergeant Stone was on another deployment, providing security at the Camp Bucca detention facility, Iraq. It was there he became interested in the use of nonlethal weapons.

When he returned from Iraq the second time, Stone earned a job as the first Air Force non-lethal weapons school instructor at Lenard Wood, Mo. He said it was "one of the best jobs he ever had."

Stone recently returned from his third contingency operation overseas where he worked as the noncommissioned officer in charge of a quick reaction force team in Saudi Arabia.
All the while, Stone earned his Associate's degree in Criminal Justice, through the Community College of the Air Force. He also nearly finished his bachelor's degree in General Studies at Columbia University.

"I'm supposed to graduate, God willing, in June," he said.

With his experiences, service, education and training, Stone said he was recently invited to help the security forces career field develop new guidelines, which include the use of nonlethal weapons. He starts that job next week.

During the course of his career, Stone said he has noticed good changes in the way security forces are used, how they deploy and how they train.

"That fact that we are stepping up the security forces and getting the guys out for the [new] training, it's important ... and I'm glad to see the changes," said Stone.

He added that the Air Guard's security forces are "more than ready" to take on new missions.

"They are not complacent, they are hungry for it," he said.

What's next for Sergeant Stone?

Officials said his accomplishments will be forwarded to the Command Chief of the Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Muncy, and other senior leaders, to review against outstanding Airmen from across the nation.

The Air Guard's top Airmen will be announced and celebrated in Washington this summer.