102nd Airman Wins Gold
By Technical Sgt. Kerri Cole & Master Sgt. Aaron Smith, 102nd Intelligence Wing
/ Published February 13, 2014
OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- -- An airman from Otis Air National Guard Base has taken the top prize for his career field in the Maj. Gen. Doyle Larson Awards program. Technical Sgt. Aaron Ledger, of the 101st Intelligence Squadron, beat out airmen from the active-duty Air Force, the Air Force Reserves, and the Air National Guard to win the gold medal this year. Colonel David McNulty, commander of the 102nd Intelligence Group, stressed the importance of the competition, saying, "For our intelligence airmen, this is one of the few ways we can shine a spotlight on the great, but mainly unseen work that the people in Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency do every day." Technical Sgt. Leger is only the second airman from Otis to win a gold medal in the awards program.
The competition, formerly known as the Sensor Olympics, started in 1979 when Maj. Gen. Doyle Larson assumed command of the United States Air Force Security Service. General Larson modeled the program after competitions the Strategic Air Command held for its bomber and missile crews. These competitions tested airmen's knowledge and proficiency in their jobs. Over time, the United States Air Force Security Service morphed into the Air Force ISR Agency and now the awards program identifies, recognizes, and honors the "best of the best" performers in 25 cryptologically-linked job specialties.
Today's test is more knowledge based, rather than hands-on, but it's not as simple opening a book and studying for it. The test itself is classified and unique to each of the 25 career fields. Each test has three phases and each phase has 100 multiple choice questions, which consist of moderate to in-depth technical knowledge and practical skills. Sergeant Leger said that there was no clear way to study for the test and that his knowledge came through the cumulative experiences gained with time on the job.
Beyond the immediate significance of winning the gold medal and being rated number one in a career field of more than 2,800 airmen, winning can be a sign of things to come. Col. McNulty notes, "Earning a top spot in the Larsen Awards is typically a mark of distinction on a medal winner's career and they often go on to be very successful Senior Non-Commissioned Officers; quite a few of them become chiefs."
For his part Sergeant Leger is looking at the bigger picture. He says, "It's cool to win and have the opportunity. I think it also makes our unit look good, and the Air National Guard as a whole." He also said that he'd like to compete next year.
The medal was presented to Sergeant Leger during a ceremony over the February drill.