Staff Sgt. Kearns, Airman of the Year 2007
By Staff Sgt. Jerome White, 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 13, 2008
BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts -- Amid all the Airmen in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, one stands out as the best. Newly promoted Staff Sgt. Michael Kearns was selected as the Airman of the Year for 2007.
Kearns, a 25-year-old native of West Springfield, joined the Air National Guard four years ago. Since joining, he has established himself as a razor-sharp troop, who has been involved with many projects at the base.
For Kearns, the decision to enlist was easy. "I used to mountain bike on that little mountain range (behind the base) and watch the air shows," he said. "I always knew that (Barnes) was where I wanted to be."
Although he admits that the available college benefits and friends here at Barnes played some part in his decision to enlist, the real motivator was the camaraderie and sense of family those at Barnes enjoy.
Kearns quickly became part of the 104th family and earned the distinctive nickname of "Shooter" from his co-workers, in that he resembles Christopher McDonald, who played the famed character "Shooter McGavin" in the movie Happy Gilmore.
In early 2007, Kearns volunteered to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for four-and-half months. While there, he was responsible for providing maintenance to more than 1,100 aircraft that landed at the base. Kearns and other members of the base aided in the recovery of the Australian Prime Minister, after he and his entourage landed in a hostile area following an inflight emergency.
Kearns was also recognized for his volunteer activities with the Eagle Scout program as well as working with handicapped children at the Paul Newman sponsored "Hole in the Wall Gang" camp in Connecticut.
One of Kearns' long-term goals is to work at the 104th Fighter Wing full-time alongside the members he considers family.
Senior Master Sgt. Rob Roy, one of Kearns' supervisors, continues to be impressed by his effort.
"Mike came to us as an Eagle Scout filled with motivation, and he has proved his value to this team, time and time again."