Tempe Chamber’s Military Committee Honors Airman

by Chris Samuels

In a ceremony honoring the bravery and service of a former airman of the 944th Fighter Wing, the Tempe Chamber of Commerce bestowed the honor to another of the base’s best.

Staff Sgt. Allen J. Long, a low observable aircraft structural technician tasked with testing the Air Force’s newest hardware, the F-35 Lightning II, was awarded the Graydon Williams Award earlier this year, on February 22. The honor is bestowed annually by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee.

The commanding officer of the 944th Fighter Wing, Col. Kurt Gallegos, praised Long for his expertise in stealth technology and the benefit he has made to the unit.

“[Staff Sgt. Long] has, basically, set the groundwork for Lockheed-Martin, doing tests on our F-35 aircraft,” Gallegos said. “He’s training the Lockheed-Martin guys on how to do low observable, because he’s done that in a prior job with the F-22s. It’s nice to have him be a part of our team. He’s experienced, and his background is invaluable.”

Low observable aircraft refers to planes that the U.S. military uses that have low-to-invisible radar signatures. A low observable aircraft structural technician installs and maintains the metals used to create the stealth feature of the aircraft, according to the U.S. Air Force’s website.

The Graydon Williams Award was named after Tech. Sgt. Williams, who was an Air Reserve technician for the fighter wing and served in the Air Force for more than 20 years. He joined the 944th in 1987 and was part of the unit until his death in 1995.

Staff Sgt. Allen J. Long, originally from Texas, enlisted in the Air Force in 2007 and began his service at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He was transferred to Luke in February 2016 after being trained in low observable aircraft structural maintenance with the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

Of the award, Long called it a “privilege” to be presented with the accolade. Long was particularly proud of the work that was being done at the base. “I feel like we’re the stepping stones for the future Air Reserve technicians that are coming in,” he said. “We’re working out the kinks and setting them up for success.”

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