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Colorado Air National Guard crew chief named the best

Master Sgt. Evan Finn performs maintenance actions on an F-16.  Fenn was selected as the Thomas N. Barnes Award winner recently making him the best crew chief in the Air National Guard.

Master Sgt. Evan Finn performs maintenance actions on an F-16. Fenn was selected as the Thomas N. Barnes Award winner recently making him the best crew chief in the Air National Guard.

Master Sgt. Evan Finn performs maintenance on an F-16.  Fenn was selected as the Thomas N. Barnes Award winner recently making him the best crew chief in the Air National Guard.

Master Sgt. Evan Finn performs maintenance on an F-16. Fenn was selected as the Thomas N. Barnes Award winner recently making him the best crew chief in the Air National Guard.

Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. -- Master Sgt. Evan Fenn is a F-16 Crew Chief with the 140th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Buckley AFB. Usually, he's aware of everything going on around him. But in July, something caught him by surprise. Fenn was named the 2010 Air National Guard Thomas N. Barnes winner. "I didn't know anything about it until I got a call from the Guard Bureau. To be honest, I had no idea the award was for best crew chief of the year," said Fenn.

Fenn's supervisors quietly submitted his name for the award after he distinguished himself during an Operational Readiness Inspection. To prepare for the inspection, he led the maintenance squadron's Tiger Team to identify and correct deficiencies in every single one of the 140th Wing's more than twenty F-16s. When Air Combat Command inspectors showed up, they found zero deficiencies and there was not one single write-up. They noted that the 140th Wing had the best block-30 F-16's they had seen to date. (Blocks describe year and build variations.)

There are two Thomas N. Barnes Awards each year; one to an active duty crew chief and another to a National Guard crew chief. It doesn't bother Fenn to share his title with someone else. He's proud of the fact that the Air National Guard operates on less than seven percent of the Air Force's budget, yet comprises about one-third of the Air Force's capability, he replied with a sense of pride, "That really speaks well of us."

Fenn started his military career in 1983 when he enlisted in the Air Force as an aircraft maintenance scheduler. When he got out in 1987, he worked for a few years as a civilian aircraft maintainer. He joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1990 and earned his Airframe and Power plant certificate. He had plans to work for an airline, but on his first day at A&P School, the Gulf War started. The airlines immediately implemented hiring freezes and layoffs but the National Guard was hiring. So, he changed his focus back to military jets.

Fenn later moved from the Oklahoma ANG, to the Arizona ANG then ultimately came to the Colorado Air National Guard in 2005. "This group at Buckley is the best crew I've ever worked with. They've got great attitudes; they're technically proficient and are motivated with can-do attitudes. That hasn't always been the case at other places I've worked," he said. Fenn has been an ANG technician for 18 years.

"The Guard is a family environment. The stability of staying at a home station of your own choosing is a benefit of being in the Guard," said Fenn Plus, he still enjoys his job.

Fenn is a little uncomfortable with the label of Crew Chief of the Year. "Yeah, I've gotten some kidding over it," says Fenn. Of course, that's exactly what you'd expect from a crew that works well together. No one in the maintenance squadron is going to admit that Fenn is the best - not while he's nearby. But privately, they agree that no one deserves the award more than Fenn. "His ability to get the job done and lead others to pursue excellence in their job is one of the reasons the COANG continues to be among the very best," said Col. Tom Shetter, 140th Maintenance Group Commander. "We are incredibly proud of him," he continued.