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Team Minot named DAF 2023 General Larry O. Spencer Award winners

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The Department of the Air Force announced the recipients of the 2023 Gen. Larry O. Spencer Innovation Award during a ceremony at the Pentagon, May 8.

Master Sgt. Keith T. Dison, flight chief of advanced geospatial intelligence analysis troop of the Joint Special Operations Command Intelligence Brigade, received the individual award, while the team award went to the Atomic Spark team, which is comprised of the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing, assigned to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, for the second year in a row.

Presented by Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James C. Slife, the individual award recognized Dison’s exceptional contributions to the Special Tactics community. Specifically, he developed groundbreaking airfield survey capabilities for challenging environments, aligning with U.S. Special Operations Command priorities.

“Every generation faces its own challenges, and those challenges usually demand new ways of approaching the problem,” Slife said. “Grassroots efforts like those of Master Sgt. Dison and the Minot team led by Lt. Col. Stephen Kroft, enabled by Spark Tanks and Innovation Cells across the Air Force, are so crucial to mission success as we prepare to fight tomorrow’s wars. The solutions are out there among our amazing Airmen, and they are just as ready to adapt and overcome as the generations of Airmen before them.”

The Atomic Spark team led efforts that significantly increased agile combat employment capabilities for the B-52 Stratofortress. Additionally, they improved security measures for nuclear deterrence capabilities, leading to substantial operational enhancements within Air Force Global Strike Command.

Members of the team included Lt. Col. Stephen A. Kroft, Capt. Matthew P. Matuszak, 1st Lt. Lucas M. Schweinsberg, 1st Lt. William T. Young, 1st Lt. Kimberly C. Liu, 1st Lt. Krystalyn J. Delph, Master Sgt. Mishell M. Sonntog, Master Sgt. Adam L. Vasas, Tech. Sgt. Dominic P. Garcia, Tech. Sgt. Israel E. Garza and Staff Sgt. Nicholas E. Hartnett.

“The spirit of Air Force innovation has grown exponentially in the last decade, netting thousands of new ideas submitted each year to various campaigns,” Slife said. “Focusing on individuals and teams dedicated to driving that innovative spirit, this award signifies the Air Force’s commitment to improved efficiency, operational readiness, and replication of innovative ideas across the entire Air Force enterprise.”

Established in 2015 and presented annually, the Gen. Larry O. Spencer Innovation award pays tribute to former Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer. The award recognizes individuals and teams driving excellence in innovation within the Air Force and is known for fostering an innovative culture for Airmen through championing initiatives like the "Every Dollar Counts" campaign and the “Airmen Powered by Innovation” website.