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Top enlisted personnel named at Colorado Springs Armed Forces Week luncheon

May 17, 2013 Updated: May 17, 2013 at 7:50 pm
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Three local troops were recognized Friday as the 2013 Outstanding Enlisted Military Representatives at the annual Armed Forces Week Luncheon at The Broadmoor.

Senior Airman Gordon T. Burton, Air Force Staff Sgt. Donald W. Wheat III and Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Anthony B. Iadevaia were named as winners in the junior enlisted, noncommissioned officer and senior noncommissioned officer categories, respectively.

The trio was selected from a pool of 15 finalists who were nominated by leaders at area military instillations, then vetted by a board, said Chuck Moneypenny, a retired Army sergeant major who served on the board.

Winners were selected based on their military awards, educational accomplishments, military accomplishments and community involvement.

This year's candidates are "great kids," said Moneypenny, who was chosen as an Outstanding Enlisted Military Representative in 1987 and volunteers with the event.

Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base and the luncheon's featured speaker, praised all 15 finalists.

"It makes me proud to serve alongside you in the finest military in the world," Shelton said during his speech.

Burton attended Friday's luncheon with his wife and parents and when it was announced he was the winner in the junior enlisted category, his father cried tears of joy, said Burton, a contract specialist assigned to the 50th Contracting Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base.

"I'm looking forward to being a part of this for years to come," he said with a broad smile.

Burton volunteers for such organizations as Airmen Against Drunk Driving, Disabled American Veterans, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

His awards include the 2012 50th Space Wing Airman of the Year, the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Wheat said he was honored to receive the award for the noncommissioned officer category.

"I think I only won because they had to pick a winner," said Wheat, the assistant noncommissioned officer in charge of the mental health clinic for the 21st Medical Operations Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base.

"I think we all deserved to win."

Wheat spends most of his volunteer time giving speeches about post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide prevention, as well as mentoring younger airmen, he said.

His awards include the Air Force Commendation Medal, 2012 Hero of the Battlefield Award from the 3/1 Armament Division of the U.S. Army and the 2012 Air Force Medical Services Behavioral Health Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for Air Force Space Command.

Iadevaia said he was surprised to receive the award in the senior noncommissioned officer category.

"I was ready to shake anyone else's hand," said Iadevaia, the Navy's senior enlisted leader for headquarters at the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base.

Organizations Iadevaia has volunteered for include Habitat for Humanity, Care and Share Food Bank and the Marian House.

His achievements include receiving two Joint Service Achievement medals, three Navy Achievement medals and the Army Achievement Medal.

Iadevaia's daughter, Isabella, 12, was particularly proud of her father.

When his name was called, "I just wanted to jump up and go crazy because I was so excited," she said. "I know he works really hard, but he always has time for us."

The luncheon and awards were hosted by the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and Business Alliance Military Affairs Council, as they have been for more than a quarter century.

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Gazette reporter Jakob Rodgers contributed to this report.

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