State Air Guard Hall of Fame adds former senior enlisted Airman

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sarah Franzen
  • Wisconsin National Guard
Current and retired military members, close friends and family members gathered together to honor retired Command Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Yapundich of Waukesha, Wis., upon his induction into the Wisconsin Air National Guard Hall of Fame during a formal ceremony Saturday (Oct. 13) at the Volk Field Air National Guard base.

Brig. Gen. John McCoy, commander of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, presented Yapundich with the award, along with praise for his achievements throughout his career in the military.

"Today is an outstanding day," McCoy said. "We have the opportunity to recognize Command Chief Master Sgt. retired Tom Yapundich of the Wisconsin Air National Guard for his outstanding service and induction into the Wisconsin Air National Guard Hall of Fame. Your presence here is a testament to the value we place on this great American."

Command Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Cullen, senior enlisted advisor for the Wisconsin Air National Guard, detailed several of Yapundich's accomplishments.

"He was the command chief master sergeant for the whole state of Wisconsin," Cullen said. "He had a lot of responsibility, and not many people get that opportunity in life."

Yapundich joined the U.S. Air Force in 1967 and was deployed throughout the Far East and Southeast Asia. After his four-year tour of active duty, he joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Control Squadron, where he was assigned as a radar maintenance technician. In 1987, he was named noncommissioned officer in charge of the satellite communications section. Two years later, he was promoted to the position of communications superintendent. In 1994, he became the chief of maintenance for the entire squadron. He culminated his career as the command chief master sergeant of the Wisconsin Air National Guard effective Jan. 1, 2001.

The Hall of Fame was established in 1982 to honor enlisted and commissioned Airmen that have been retired for at least three years. Each recipient must have the highest caliber of dedication, brought great credit to the United States and the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Exceptional performance, institution of and contribution to influential programs and significant improvement of the mission of the Wisconsin Air National Guard are just a few of the service characteristics of those considered.

"Each of the members of the Hall has a unique story, but all have gone above and beyond the norm," McCoy said. "The members that are here today are a vital link to our past. Those of us currently serving owe great debt to the people that came before us."

Yapundich concluded the ceremony with many thanks to those that have helped and mentored him along the way, and those that have received the award before him.

"I am very honored and very privileged to be among this group of individuals," Yapundich said.

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