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Air National Guard names Idaho member 'Outstanding Airman'

Staff Sgt Jonathan Sawmiller, an Emergency Management Journeyman from the 124th Civil Engineering Flight intstructs SSgt Lonnie Kemp of the Idaho Air Guard on vehicle protection and awareness in a chemical, biological, and nuclear environment during a recent training session. Sgt Sawmiller was nominated as Outstanding Airman for the Air National Guard. (Air Force photo by Tech Sgt Becky Vanshur)(Released)

Staff Sgt Jonathan Sawmiller, an Emergency Management Journeyman from the 124th Civil Engineering Flight intstructs SSgt Lonnie Kemp of the Idaho Air Guard on vehicle protection and awareness in a chemical, biological, and nuclear environment during a recent training session. Sgt Sawmiller was nominated as Outstanding Airman for the Air National Guard. (Air Force photo by Tech Sgt Becky Vanshur)(Released)

GOWEN FIELD, Boise, Idaho -- An Idaho Air National Guard member was named the Air National Guard Outstanding Airman of the Year for 2009.

Air National Guard officials said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Sawmiller distinguished himself as an Emergency Management journeyman for the Idaho Air Guard's 124th Civil Engineering Squadron.

It has been 15 years since an Idaho Air Guard member received the prestigious award which recognizes an Airman who has shown outstanding leadership, significant self-improvement and community involvement.

"I've never met an Airman who has made an incredible impact like him," said Senior Master Sgt. Ruel Gadbury, Emergency Management flight chief for the 124th Civil Engineer Squadron. "He is an excellent mentor and will be a valuable asset wherever he goes and in whatever he does."

Gadbury said he gained a whole new level of respect for Sawmiller after working with him during a six month deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar in 2008.

While deployed, Sawmiller saved the Air Force more than $3 million by conducting an inventory and locating missing in-theater emergency management equipment.

"Most people know what it takes to excel," Gadbury said. "But few take the time to actually do it."

In addition to saving the Air Force a large amount of money, Sawmiller ran two successful in-theater exercises and briefed senior leaders on critical Emergency Management issues at the Air National Guard Emergency Manager Symposium.

When asked how he felt about receiving the Outstanding Airman of the Year award, Sawmiller replied, "It's a huge honor. I'm an ordinary guy just trying to do my job well."

He said he joined the National Guard in 2005 because he thought it would be a great chance to serve his country and finish school.

He went on to earn his bachelor's degree in English Writing from Boise State University in 2007 and is currently pursuing a law degree at the University of Idaho College of Law. After he graduates, he plans to continue his military service as a Judge Advocate General in the Air Force.

Sawmiller also made an impact on the local community when he established a Sept. 11th memorial at two state universities directing 3,000 flags to be posted and coordinating speakers for the service.

He said he will continue to give his very best to the Idaho Air National Guard and "strive for excellence even though things may seem like they don't matter, because in the end they do."

He will be honored by the Air National Guard in Washington, D.C. from June 6 to 12.