JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
The U.S. Air Force announced the recipients of the 2017 Air Force Fighter Annual Awards in May 2018 at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Of the five recipients, Maj. “Mongo” Dietrich, 149th Fighter Squadron chief of weapons, was named the Air Force’s Fighter Instructor Pilot of the Year.
Dietrich is the first F-22 Raptor pilot to receive this award. He is an instructor pilot in the 149th FS based out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. The squadron consists of about 50 members with about half being pilots.
“He is the perfect example of what the entire Virginia Air National Guard brings to the fight, both in garrison and around the world, during combat operations,” said Col. Frank Lobash, 192nd Fighter Wing commander. “We are key players in the success of our U.S. Air Force and execution of national security. From the maintainers that make the F-22 fly to the many support Airmen that make sure Dietrich is always ready to fly, it is a VaANG family effort.”
As an instructor pilot, Dietrich trains pilots during scenarios and tasks. He also acts as a mentor during regular operations by providing feedback and advice on piloting the F-22. He is not the only instructor pilot in the 149th FS by far; every pilot in the squadron is an instructor pilot.
“I’ve been lucky my entire Air Force career to be surrounded by great people and exceptional instructors who’ve looked out for me, taken me under their wings and guided me through my time in the Air Force,” said Dietrich as he reflected on what the award meant to him. “I don’t really see this award as an individual award. Every technique I’ve ever learned on how to instruct I learned from someone else.”
The award is designed to recognize an instructor pilot’s commitment, performance, leadership and aviation skills that were instrumental to mission success of their units, the USAF and the Department of Defense.
“Dietrich is a true superstar, and it’s an honor to be able to work next to him each day as he continues to teach the next generation of fighter pilots how to do things right,” said Lt. Col. Michael Schaner, 149th FS commander.
The award citation spoke to Dietrich’s ingenuity which helped the USAF adapt to ever-changing contingencies around the world.
“Honestly, I feel like a running back getting an MVP award, when we all know it’s the offensive line, the coaching, schemes, game planning, practice team, QB calling audibles, wideouts/TE blocking, training staff and strength coaches that all contribute to the mission,” said Dietrich. “The only difference is the contributors: crew chiefs, specialists, fuels, weapons, ammo, production, 1COs [aviation resource management specialists], life support, medical support, wingman and intelligence, just to name a few, all contribute to successfully generating sorties to get weapons effects on the enemy or build another combat mission capable pilot in a training mission at home.”