Profiles in excellence: 2016 Individual Reservists of the Year

  • Published
  • By By Master Sgt. Timm Huffman
  • Headquarters Individual Reserve Readiness and Integration Organization

Maj. Wesley A. Skenfield, Field Grade Officer of the Year

Maj. Wesley A. Skenfield, the senior director at the 613th Air Operations Center, Air Mobility Division, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, was named 2016 Individual Reservist Field Grade Officer of the Year.

As an AOC/AMD senior director, Skenfield is the focal point for command and control of all air mobility missions.  He said he relies on his 13 years of active-duty operational experience when making critical decisions and recommendations to commanders. Some of the accomplishments that went towards earning Skenfield the annual award included supporting several presidential trips to the Pacific theater, coordinating five urgent air evacuations for life-saving care and, as one of the Air Force’s only IMA pilots, flew more than 20 sorties and instructed more than 40 active-duty students in the C-17.

Skenfield has served as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee for the past two years. The rated aviator, who has over 600 hours of combat flying and 4,000 hours total, left active duty to focus on his family and professional career.

“After 13 years on active duty, it was time for my family to settle down for a while,” said Skenfield, who just finished his first year as an Alaskan Airlines first officer. “The IMA program provided options to use my military expertise and to continue my professional development.”

Skenfield said the active component also reaps benefits from the IMA program, such as the flexibility to bring someone in when there are personnel shortages due to TDYs, deployments, and other issues, as well the continuity they bring to organization where members are normally reassigned every couple of years. 

“IMAs… are a very efficient method for augmenting Air Force personnel,” he said.

Capt. Oriana S. Mastro, Company Grade Officer of the Year

Capt. Oriana S. Mastro, a political military affairs strategist at Pacific Air Force, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, was named the 2016 Individual Reservist Company Grade Officer of the Year.

Mastro is an expert on the Chinese military and security policy. She holds a doctoral degree from Princeton University and is currently an assistant professor of security studies at Georgetown University and a Stanton Nuclear Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Her expertise on the Chinese military is widely recognized. She recently completed two years as the China Strategist on the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Strategic Studies Group. She is also a certified regional area strategist in China.  Some of the accomplishments that contributed to Mastro earning the annual CGO award included work on top-level strategy meetings and plans, briefing top military leaders on regional affairs and serving as lead China strategist at the 2016 PACAF Warfighter Symposium.

Mastro’s joined the Air Force as an IMA in 2009 after spending most of the preceding decade learning and training to be a China military specialist. She said joining the Air Force has taught her many things her civilian job as an academic hasn’t, such as resiliency, leadership and a sense of service. She cited the camaraderie and ability to contribute to real-world strategy as top benefits of joining the service.

“I spend a lot of time researching and writing, and the fact that I can disseminate my knowledge directly to the people who care about security in the Asia-Pacific [theater] is personally rewarding,” she said.

Mastro added that serving in the Air Force while also on a tenure track at Georgetown University is demanding but she feels that serving in the military lends her credibility and this award validates her efforts.

“This award makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing, that I belong in the Air Force,” she said. “Also, the fact that my active-duty unit took so much time to put together my nomination package made me feel appreciated, like I am a valuable part of the team.”

Senior Master Sgt. Wallace E. Wood, Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year

Senior Master Sgt. Wallace E. Wood, the Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the fusion analyst superintendent at 24th Air Force, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, was named the 2016 Individual Reservist Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year and was subsequently named Air Force Reserve Command SNCO of the Year.

Wood has served as an IMA since he left the Navy 12 years ago.

“I like to tell people that when I crossed over to the sky-blue service as an E-5, I was issued a first name, a place at the table and the freedom to voice my opinions and inferences,” he said. “Even though I still twitch from time to time, I am thankful I made the switch.”

In addition to having his insight and expertise recognized, Wood said he thinks the IMA program brings great flexibility to the active-component and that a well-managed reserve program is irreplaceable. He added that the program has allowed him to pursue multiple goals at once and to serve on long-term orders supporting a variety projects that ultimately enhanced his career.

Wood’s award recognizes the contributions he made supporting the 39th Information Operations Squadron on long-term orders. In this role, he stood up the training detachment which provides advanced cyber operations and intelligence training to over 350 personnel annually in the Air Force’s only Information Operations and Cyber Formal Training Unit. In addition to establishing the detachment Wood lead the training of 382 cyber and intelligence Airmen in five courses and 19 classes, developed requirements for a $12.7 million building upgrade and expanded the training staff by 300 percent. His efforts saved the Air Force $1.9 million in annual travel requirements.

As an IMA at 24th Air Force, Wood advises and assists the director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) by developing and maintaining cyber intelligence requirements in support of combatant commanders and war contingency planning. In addition, he conducts combatant command operations plan analysis to determine intelligence gaps and also coordinates and directs the dissemination of intelligence reporting.

Wood said the award is recognition and appreciation for the presence and support the reserve component provides. 

“It’s a reminder that a reservist isn’t limited,” he said. “An Individual Reservist can set and achieve goals, can lead, can form strong bonds with subordinates and superiors, and can advance his or her career just like the active component.”

Tech. Sgt. Khrysallis M. Santos, Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year

Tech. Sgt. Khrysallis M. Santos, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the command center reports section at Headquarters, U.S. Forces Japan command center, Yokota Air Base, Japan, was named the 2016 Individual Reservist Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.

Santos was a traditional reservist until transferred into the IMA program in 2014 and enjoys the opportunities it has offered her to expand her career and work directly with the active component at locations around the world. She finished cross training into her current Air Force specialty about a year ago and hasn’t wasted time making a name for herself.

In her current role with USFJ, she has a variety of responsibilities, including early missile warning, training personnel, keeping the commander appraised and assisting with writing policy. In addition to the 2016 IR NCO of the Year, she was also named the Air Force Reserve Command, Command and Control NCO of the Year and HQ USFJ NCO of the 4th Quarter.

Some of the accomplishments that contributed to Santos earning the annual IR NCO award included writing and implementing several new processes, coordinating rescue efforts for three downed aircraft, tracking 70 missile events and managing 22 situation reports for a 2016 presidential visit to Japan.

Santos said she had wanted to cross train for many years but wasn’t able to until coming to the Individual Reserve. She said she’s looking forward to opportunities to expand her career even further by pursuing positions in other parts of the world.

In addition to the many opportunities for career advancement in the IR, coming from the world of structured drill weekends and annual tours, Santos appreciates the flexibility in scheduling that comes with IMA jobs.

“It's been a dream having a say in when [IDT] and annual tour requirements will be met; and having the option to knock everything out over the span of a few weeks.”  

She added that the opportunity to work side-by-side with the active duty has been an immersive learning opportunity.