The BYU Air Force ROTC (AFROTC), hosted by the BYU Marriott School of Business aerospace studies program, was recently recognized with two awards from the United States Air Force ROTC. The awards highlight the hard work, dedication, and achievements of the program’s staff members in 2021.
The first award, Northwest Region Team of the Year 2021, was announced on January 20, 2022. The award recognized all 12 staff members of the BYU Marriott aerospace studies program, referred to as Detachment 855, for their propensity to go above and beyond the call of duty to care for their cadets. A total of 35 detachments make up the Northwest Region.
Detachment 855’s achievements included organizing and taking senior cadets on an experiential learning opportunity to Normandy and other parts of France in September 2021. On the 10-day trip, cadets visited several different World War II locations and were assigned to role play as different leaders, such as General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The program leadership was also commended for its Veteran’s Day memorial service that included prisoner of war Lt. Colonel Jay Hess as the keynote speaker. The service took place in Brigham Square on the campus of BYU, with BYU Army ROTC cadets and staff in attendance as well.
“The award means a tremendous amount to me because I know how hard our team members work and how much they deserve recognition,” says Colonel Frederick Thaden, department chair of the BYU AFROTC. “These awards each year are sort of like our Olympics, and this time we won the gold medal.”
The second award, University Employee of the Year 2021, was awarded to Erin Ricks, the aerospace studies program manager. Announced on January 28, 2022, Ricks’s award acknowledges her leadership, dedication to her job, and her high level of success in assisting cadets, organizing events, and running the aerospace studies program.
“Winning this award with so many other qualified candidates also being considered is incredibly humbling,” says Ricks, who was recognized out of all 145 AFROTC detachments across the United States. Winning awards is not new to Ricks; she has won several AFROTC awards since starting at BYU Marriott in 2018. “My secret to success is my fellow employees,” she says. “They make feeling and being successful possible.”
Both Detachment 855 and Ricks were nominated for their awards by Thaden. “Being nominated and winning these awards allows my team, especially Ricks, to be honored for all their hard work and be able to see why what they do matters,” he says. “The job is not always easy and we encounter many struggles, but being validated as the best helps make everything worth it.”
Writer: Bethany Benham