By 2nd Lt. Christine Saunders
/ Published October 09, 2019
Tech. Sgt. Colleen McGahuey-Ramsey, 417th Flight Test Squadron, recently won the 2019 Airlift/Tanker Association’s prestigious Robert “Dutch” Huyser Outstanding Aircrew Member Award. This Air Force-level award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated superior leadership during aircrew duties and sustained excellence in airmanship. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
Tech. Sgt. Colleen McGahuey-Ramsey, 71st Rescue Squadron (RQS) loadmaster, looks out the back of an HC-130J Combat King II as it flies over south Georgia Sept. 6, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. This was the first flight for the 71st RQS and the HC-130J Combat King II airframe to be operated by an all female aircrew. The 71st RQS provides rapidly deployable, expeditionary personnel recovery forces for theater commanders for contingency and crisis response operations worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Kaylin P. Hankerson)
Teamwork, good communication, and genuine care for your people are the three themes for how Tech. Sgt. Colleen McGahuey-Ramsey conducts her daily activities as a flight test loadmaster at the 417th Flight Test Squadron here.
McGahuey-Ramsey is the recipient of the 2019 Airlift/Tanker Association’s prestigious Robert “Dutch” Huyser Outstanding Aircrew Member Award. This Air Force-level award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated superior leadership during aircrew duties and sustained excellence in airmanship.
“I am extremely humbled, blown away and grateful for all the amazing opportunities the Air Force has provided me,” said the Pennsylvania native. “I would really like to thank my leadership, mentors and all the people who have worked with me the last couple of years. This is everyone’s award, I didn’t do this by myself.”
She earned the award as a HC-130J loadmaster with the 71st Rescue Squadron at Moody AFB, Georgia.
During this time, she garnered over 1,200 flying hours, served as an additional-duty first sergeant, and completed instructor loadmaster upgrade training. She served as an operations flight chief when she returned home from a five-month deployment in support of combat operations in the Middle East.
Part of the award recognizes outstanding leadership.
“I expect a lot from my troops, but I’m right next to them. I will always lead by example,” said the 14-year veteran. “I will never ask them to do something I’m not willing to do, or that I haven’t already done, or something I’m not willing to help them with.”
“I’m also there to take a step back and let them grow and learn on their own,” said McGahuey-Ramsey, who also attributes strong communication to her resilience and success at home.
Rescue loadmasters are limited to assignment locations, with either Moody AFB or Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, typically being the only two options.
This year, she found the Eglin flight test loadmaster position.
“I applied for the job because the opportunity to work in test and experience a new challenge and broaden my experiences was extremely appealing to me,” said McGahuey-Ramsey, who never thought the test position was an option.
She met the requirements that included rank, flying hours, and instructor qualification. She earned the position making her the only HC-130J loadmaster at the 417th FLTS.
“I look forward to learning the test processes and programs within Air Force Material Command,” said McGahuey-Ramsey, who was an Air Force firefighter before cross training into loadmaster. “The test world is seen as a great opportunity career wise, since the fliers here tend to be more seasoned instructors.”
Her addition to the team adds in-house search and rescue expertise the squadron previously had to rely on from other operational units or test squadrons. McGahuey-Ramsey’s presence speeds up test planning, card review and simplifies execution, according to Lt. Col. Brian Taylor, 417th FLTS commander.
The tech sergeant said she always wanted to fly and be a part of the mission in a different way.
“I’m part of an honorable history of enlisted aviation that dates back to the earliest years of military flying,” said the 33-year-old soon-to-be master sergeant. “Every day is different, every flight is unique - nothing is ever the same. I like the constant diversity of my job. It’s a challenge and it’s drives me to work harder and be better every time I step out the door to fly.”