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Public Affairs team recognized for communication excellence

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped C-130 drops retardant on a section of the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs, Colo. June 26. Four MAFFS aircraft from the 302nd and 153rd Airlift Wings are supporting civil authorities as they combat the fire, which has burned since June 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher)

This Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System C-130 photo from the Waldo Canyon fire was featured on the front page of USA Today’s June 28, 2012 issue. The 302nd Airlift Wing’s Public Affairs office received top honors in two award categories including Best Crisis Communications in the Air Force Reserve Command’s 2012 Communication Excellence Awards program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas Doscher)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 302nd Airlift Wing's Public Affairs office received top honors in two categories of the Air Force Reserve Command's 2012 Communication Excellence Awards program.

The Reserve public affairs office was recognized by the Air Force's second largest major command with the Best Crisis Communication Award for the office's June 2012 communications response to the Waldo Canyon fire and the resulting Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System activation and Ms. Ann Skarban, Chief of 302nd AW public affairs, was named Outstanding Communication Intermediate Civilian, Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs for 2012.

For their Waldo Canyon fire and MAFFS response, the public affairs team was recognized for expanded reach and effectiveness of communication through the comprehensive use of social media tools keeping local, national and international audiences abreast of the Air Force Reserve Command's role in fighting wildland fires. The public affairs team also provided immediate response to dozens of media queries in one week resulting in two national evening broadcast news stories highlighting MAFFS, one prominent MAFFS image on the front page of USA Today's June 28, 2012 issue, an increase in social media outreach from 500 to 65,000 and the publication and broadcast of countless, daily MAFFS stories reaching millions via national, regional and local television station markets.

Small team members participating in the public affairs crisis response named in the award package include: Ms. Ann Skarban, Tech. Sgt. Daniel Butterfield and Staff Sgt. Stephen Collier all from the 302nd AW; Capt. Rusty Ridley and Senior Airman Nichole Grady, 153rd AW, Wyoming Air National Guard; and from U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs, Tech. Sgt. Thomas Doscher.

Ann Skarban, Chief of the 302nd Airlift Wing's public affairs office was named the Air Force Reserve Command's Outstanding Communication Intermediate Public Affairs Civilian for her public affairs leadership during the Waldo Canyon fire and MAFFS crisis communication response, her expansion of the Wing's media outreach to millions in the Denver media market, assisting with the coordination of media travel allowing the wing's 34th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron's deployment to Afghanistan to be covered by Denver news media and her nomination of a Colorado Springs civic leader who became the Air Force Reserve Command's only Office of Secretary of Defense Joint Civilian Orientation Conference attendee.

"The events of 2012 certainly placed our Wing's mission in the spotlight. Our entire public affairs team put forth enormous efforts and through their work in the local community and with media they successfully increased public awareness of our mission and effectively told and marketed the stories of our 302nd Airlift Wing Airmen," said Col. Jay Pittman, commander of the 302nd Airlift Wing.

The 302nd Airlift Wing awards represented the Air Force Reserve Command at the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs level competition.

An entire listing of the Air Force Reserve Command 2012 Communication Excellence awards can be found here.