MOODY AIR FORCE BASE -- Senior Airman Kurt Marunick has been chosen as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen in the Air Force.

Marunick, 26, is assigned to the 347th Maintenance Squadron and has worn the Air Force Blue for more than two years.

The award he earned includes members of the junior enlisted ranks and the noncommissioned and senior noncommissioned officer corps.

The Air Force looks at several categories with an emphasis on leadership, community service and education.

On the education side, Marunick is now working on his masters in business administration degree with an emphasis on international business through the University of Phoenix Online.

The online courses will allow him to continue attending classes even when he's deployed. He has completed 19 of the 45 credits needed and hopes to complete his MBA next August.

Marunick is a rarity. When he enlisted in the Air Force, he had earned a degree in history and a minor in geography from Eastern Michigan University in 2000.

Marunick was selected as the Airman of the Year for his squadron, his group and for the 347th Rescue Wing, and he was selected as the Airman of the year for the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Later, Marunick and the AFSOC NCO and Senior NCO of the year competed against the other Air Force major commands.

Once it got up to the Air Force level, the categories of junior enlisted, NCOs and Senior NCOs were thrown out when it came to selecting the 12 Outstanding Airmen. When the final 12 were selected, Marunick and another airman were the only members from the junior enlisted ranks to be chosen.

Marunick was notified of his selection by Col. Brad Heithold, 347th Rescue Wing commander, and Col. PJ Vasquez, 347th Maintenance Group commander, last Wednesday.

"Of course I was happy, but it was more disbelief," Marunick said. "You want to do good things, and I guess my goal was to do good things for the base."

Moody is Marunick's first assignment, and he's been there since September 2002. Marunick is an aircraft fuel systems mechanic and made his first deployment to Iraq from February to April.

He felt nervous prior to being deployed because of what he saw on television, but once he was over there things became different.

"When I was over there, actually I consider that one of the best times I've had in the Air Force," he said. "Not because the conditions were so good, it's just the camaraderie. You look everybody in the eye and you know what your mission is, and everybody helps everybody out."

Marunick is already looking at a future in Air Force as an officer. He's planning on putting his packet for Officer Training School in about a year.

He feels that his selection as one of the outstanding 12 airmen should be help him be selected to attend OTS.

Being one of the top airmen in Air Force will give him a unique opportunity to become an ambassador for the Air Force for about a year.

He's heard that there will be a lot travel to different military installations, and he'll be used as a recruitment and retention tool.

"I'm excited, I love to travel and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Marunick and the other 11 airmen who have been selected will be officially recognized in Washington, D.C., by the Air Force Association in September.

To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.

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