By Scott Prater
Master Sgt. Michael Wright, Schriever’s Law Office superintendent, earned the Steve Swigonski Award for Outstanding Young Paralegal at 14th Air Force and Air Force Space Command for 2010 and has been submitted to compete at the Air Force level.
Honoring Chief Master Sgt. Steve Swigonski, USAF retired, the first special assistant for Legal Airman Affairs to the Judge Advocate General, the award is presented to an active duty paralegal who demonstrates superior initiative, technical skill, leadership, attorney/paralegal teaming and devotion to duty.
Though eligible candidates are paralegals in the grade of technical sergeant or below, Sergeant Wright was still eligible because he held the rank of technical sergeant at the end of 2010.
Lt. Col. Richard Ladue, 50th Space Wing staff judge advocate, nominated Sergeant Wright based on his performance in the legal office here and during his six-month deployment.
“He did more than what a normal paralegal would do down range,” Colonel Ladue said.
Sergeant Wright began his deployment during July 2010, when he arrived at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan to serve as the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing’s noncommissioned officer in charge of the legal office.
“The legal work ebbed and flowed there,” he said. “So I was able to volunteer with the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility.”
When Soldiers, Airmen and civilians were wounded, they were treated at the hospital at Kandahar, and moved to a medical facility in Baghram once stabilized. Sergeant Wright volunteered to move the stabilized patients from the hospital to waiting busses or ambulances then drove them to the flight line and helped load them onto aircraft.
He was credited with loading 58 patients, 13 critical, on five separate occasions.
“The critical patients had a lot of extra medical equipment and some weighed upwards of 300 pounds, so often it would take six of us to move them,” he said.
Colonel Ladue learned from the commander of the CASF that Sergeant Wright was often the first volunteer to show up for duty.
“The transport folks raved about him, saying he did outstanding work,” Colonel Ladue said. “Plus, he was doing an awesome job here during the first half of the year.”
His nomination package lists Sergeant Wright as an “Operational Readiness Inspection star.” He was credited with crafting JA’s emergency management training plan for the HQ AFSPC inspection during April 2010 and instrumental in the JA office’s fully-compliant-with-zero-findings inspection rating.
He also rated as AFSPC’s best in processing standards for General Courts Martial, scored high on the Attorney/Paralegal Teaming criteria and proved exemplary in the Devotion to Duty criteria.
Sergeant Wright is now awaiting the results of the Outstanding Young Paralegal competition at the Air Force level, which should be announced in the next month.
“It would be kind of exciting to win at the Air Force level,” the Sergeant said. “I would get to travel to New Orleans this October, where the JAG corps hosts this year’s Keystone Conference. They present the award and the winner gives a speech in front of a big crowd. So, that would be a different experience to say the least.”