News Search

178th member receives prominent award

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Michael Gibson
  • 178th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The Armed Forces Community Relations Council presented Senior Master Sgt. Michael Golden the Golden Eagle award during their annual awards ceremony, May 17, at the Villa Milano Banquet and Conference Center in Columbus, Ohio, for his numerous accomplishments while serving as a 178th Fighter Wing chaplain's assistant.

The Golden Eagle is the AFCRC's top award and recognizes their single most outstanding NCO selection.

Judges selected Golden over NCOs from all military branches - active duty, guard and reserve, based on his military accomplishments, community involvement, speaking ability, poise, military bearing, promotion of military and civilian relations, and knowledge of world affairs and current issues.

"It was just humbling," he said. "When I heard these other people's accomplishments, I thought 'how could I even stack up to that?'"

The committee invited their top 10 nominees from the award packages they received. These nominees each received a plaque commemorating their achievement and an American flag flown over the Nation's capital in their honor.

"That was incredible just to be there," said Golden. "They had numerous public officials there, from the sheriff to city commissioners to mayors."

Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard, was the guest speaker for the event and personally recognized each nominee for their accomplishments.

"It was pretty awesome," said Golden. "I wasn't expecting anything. I thought from the very beginning, 'How cool would it be to just be one of the top 10?'"

As another speaker read each nominee' s bio to the audience, Golden said he felt overwhelmed by what he heard. "I was just glad to be there," he said. "When I heard these other people's stories - I thought 'holy cow, this was some impressive stuff.'"

Golden was the last nominee presented to the audience and felt fortunate to be included amongst the other nine. He was overcome with emotion when after being announced as the Golden Eagle award recipient.

"It touched me" he said. "I got choked up a little bit there." Golden continued, "To have it all come to that it - it was more than I could have imagined."

"We are really proud of Mike," said Col. Gregory Schnulo, 178th Fighter Wing commander. "There was very impressive competition."

Golden credits his success to having strong mentors throughout his career, such as Chief Master Sgt. Ottis LeMaster, 178th command chief, who nominated him for the award.

"Senior Master Sgt. Golden is the example of a citizen soldier," said LeMaster. "He has contributed to the success of the 178th at every level of his career."

This award is only one of Golden's recent accomplishments. He also earned two Community College of the Air Force degrees, Meritorious Service Medal, U.S. Army Commendation Medal, and was one of three individuals selected for promotion to E-8 through the Ohio Exceptional Promotion Program.

"He has always performed above standard," said LeMaster.

Golden, a member of the 178th for 28 years, appreciates the opportunities the wing provided him and said he feels fortunate to have had people take an interest in his career when they didn't have to, such as LeMaster and Lt. Col. Elaine Henderson, 178th FW chaplain.

Golden became a chaplain's assistance after serving more than 22 years in the 178th Civil Engineering Squadron.

"As a trainer in CE he mentored and led two of his enlisted to seek and get commissioning opportunities. He only expanded his area of influence when he joined the Chaplaincy core," said the command chief.

"The key to being a good leader is to always be impacting those around you even when you don't even realize that you are," said LeMaster. "No matter where he goes he will always being touching those who are around him in a way that will inspire them to be more."