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News | Dec. 3, 2020

Vermont ANG civilian wins national award

By Tech. Sgt. Shane Phipps 158th Fighter Wing

A 158th Security Forces Squadron civilian security operations supervisor was recently named Air National Guard security forces flight level civilian supervisor of the year for 2020.

James Sides, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who spent his active duty career in military police, learned about his win through his leadership on the evening before Thanksgiving.

“I didn’t believe the news when I first heard it because I’ve only been here 11 months,” said Sides. “I feel like I’ve done some good things here but we’re just getting started.”
For Sides’ leadership, he was an obvious selection for the award and the final outcome came as no surprise.

“Officer Sides has made a significant impact within the squadron, since his hiring 11 months ago,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeremiah Brooks, 158th SFS manager. “His previous experience working for the state of Vermont and as a commander in the U.S. Army, has brought a significant amount of skills and knowledge to his current position.”

Sides maintains his recognition is more of a reflection of his subordinates and the entire 158th Security Forces Squadron.

“It’s really the environment here, both in the Air National Guard and the squadron, that set me up for success,” said Sides. “When I arrived, they clearly explained the problems and gave me the freedom and authority to tackle those problems. I also want to give credit to our security officers because a lot changed for them when I came onboard. Not only did they all change with me, but they welcomed it.”

Brooks agrees although the award says much of Sides as a leader, it’s also a testament to the professionalism of the entire team.

“Officer Sides’ selection for this award formally recognizes the dedication, commitment and sacrifice he’s made to the security forces enterprise and Air National Guard as a whole,” said Brooks. “His personal positive impact has been substantial. However, it has not been accomplished alone. Members, regardless of status, throughout the 158th SFS, 158th FW, and VTANG, have played vital roles in supporting officer Sides in obtaining this remarkable achievement. Though officer Sides was rightfully selected for this award, every member should know they are valued and have a significant impact on our mission to defend our state and country.”

Sides' win at the Air National Guard level means he will now compete with the Air Force Reserve and Air Force active duty winners to determine the security forces civilian supervisor of the year for the entire force. However, as a former senior officer in the U.S. Army, he is much more comfortable bestowing accolades than receiving them.

“When I was making the decision to leave the military, I didn’t think I wanted to continue to serve as a civilian,” said Sides. “After working outside the military for two years I realized how much I missed the military and the sense of family. Coming back to this job, I realized the best thing I could have ever done was to continue to serve in the military as a civilian. You don’t need rank. You don’t need a title. You just need to be one of the points of light pushing toward a collective purpose. I know anyone in the squadron would do anything for me -- even though my clothes are a little different from theirs.”

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