The North Dakota Air National Guard’s (NDANG), 119th Wing, known as the “Happy Hooligans,” recognized the organization’s top officers, noncommissioned officers and Airmen of the Year on March 4, during a ceremony at the Hilton Garden Inn, Fargo, N.D. (National Guard story by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Knodle, 119th Wing Public Affairs)
Airmen were nominated for the awards based on their military and civic service throughout 2022. The Outstanding Airman Program annually recognizes officers and enlisted members for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement, and personal achievements.
Field Grade Officer of the Year: Maj. Daniel Sly, 119th Mission Support Group.
Maj. Daniel Sly joined the NDANG in 1999 and commands the 119th Communications Flight. His 2022 accomplishments include helping build a mobile STARLINK communications kit which significantly improved communications in support of domestic operations in remote areas of North Dakota. He led the design, engineering and installation of a vastly improved communications infrastructure to include a core fiber optic mesh network that is more robust, resilient and faster than legacy systems. Sly served as an expert panel member for two separate Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce cyber events, serving to educate small business and community leaders on cyber network security. He led the design and creation of a research and development network now used by the U.S. Coast Guard to test improved search and rescue capabilities. Sly volunteers as a coach for Moorhead Youth Football and the Moorhead Crush Softball program. He also serves as a volunteer at the Christ the King Church in Moorhead leading the Call Committee.
Company Grade Officer of the Year: 1st Lt. Cody Chick, 119th Mission Support Group.
1st Lt. Cody Chick joined the NDANG in 2009 and serves as the operations officer for the 219th Security Forces Squadron in Minot, N.D. Prior to his current role, Chick served as a fire team leader, training instructor, training noncommissioned officer in charge, and support operations officer.
His 2022 accomplishments include successfully leading 80 Airmen in performing 24/7 nuclear security operations for Global Strike Command at Minot Air Force Base. Chick is the only ANG member certified as a Nuclear Convoy Commander and only one of six in the entire U.S. Air Force. During this time, he commanded 25 nuclear weapon convoys and securely transferred over $672M worth of nuclear war assets over a combined distance of 1,700 miles. He participated in the 119th Wing Strategic Planning Team, developing goals and objectives to support the Wing’s priorities. He volunteers his time and home as a host family sponsor for the Minot State University Women’s Hockey Team, providing a home and support for non-local women to play college hockey and get an education.
Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Erica Carruth, 119th Mission Support Group.
Senior Master Sgt. Erica Carruth joined the NDANG in 2005, and currently serves as the flight chief, Military Personnel Flight in the 119th Force Support Squadron.
Her major 2022 accomplishments include deploying as the personnel support for contingency operations team chief at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. There he led the collaboration to create the first ever 119th Wing Strategic Plan and developed an online platform for wing personnelists to track training. Additionally, she was recognized as a superior performer by the 119th Wing Inspector General for her efforts in creating intricate scenarios for a mass casualty exercise. Carruth recently became a certified hot yoga instructor and teaches fitness classes at Inspire Health and Wellness. She is a member of the Harwood American Legion and the Enlisted Association. She is also an active member of her parish, Holy Spirit Catholic church, where she volunteers with her husband. Her most memorable NDANG moment was in August 2021 when she was deployed to Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait and directly supported the citizens and military members that were evacuating Afghanistan. She led a Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team that worked around the clock to track and aid Noncombatant Evacuation Operations.
Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Master Sgt. Taylor Wolford, 119th Operations Group.
Master Sgt. Taylor Wolford joined the NDANG in 2009 and currently serves as an operations intelligence flight chief in the 178th Attack Squadron. His major 2022 accomplishments include expanding relationships with the U.S. Special Operations Forces community by facilitating joint exercises and providing a Live Virtual Constructive training environment. This led to the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures integrating MQ-9 operations into the joint domain. Wolford has been deployed “in-garrison” supporting numerous contingency operations since 2013. He is honored to serve as an intelligence flight chief and relishes the role of “taking care of Airmen.” Taylor volunteers for the Salvation Army and serves as a coach for Tri-City Youth Soccer.
Sornsin, 119th Mission Support Group.
Senior Airman Maria Sornsin joined the NDANG in 2018, and currently serves as a services journeyman in the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron.
Her major 2022 accomplishments include identifying 425 safety hazards resulting in the creation of 1,700 work orders for corrective action. Her efforts improved the quality of life for 7,200 joint coalition warfighters and earned her the U.S. Air Force Central Top Performer award. In July 2022, her humanitarianism took her to Medjugorje, Bosnia where she engaged in activities that provided shelter, necessary medical care, pharmaceutical treatment, nourishment, supplies and critical winter clothing. These efforts directly contributed to the health and wellness of the local community. Finally, Sornsin supported the movement of 825 total force students within 12 different career fields, from 25 visiting teams at the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Regional Training Site. Her most memorable 119th Wing moment was a deployment for training to Yokota Air Force Base, Japan.
“We are extremely proud of these Airmen and their continued dedication to excellence and service to our state and nation,” said Col. Mitch Johnson, 119th Wing commander. “Their contributions to the N.D. Air National Guard ensure that the Happy Hooligans’ outstanding reputation is maintained and enhanced throughout the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense.”
Family of the Year
Master Sgt. Taylor Wolford, left, and Master Sgt. Laura Wolford and daughter were recognized as Family of the Year at the annual North Dakota Airmen of Year Banquet, March 4, 2023, Fargo, N.D. (National Guard photo by Senior Airman Christa Anderson, 119th Wing Public Affairs)
Article reprinted with permission from the North Dakota National Guard.