JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
Airman 1st Class Salvatore Morrone, a religious affairs Airman stationed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, was awarded the Richard C. Schneider Airman of the Year award by the United States Air Force Chaplain Corps Feb. 13.
The award recognizes a distinguished Airman for leadership, performance, significant self-improvement and base or community involvement.
As a religious affairs Airman, Morrone said he tries to come in and do the best he can with his responsibilities, of which he has many.
“We do confidential crisis intervention counseling and during those crisis interventions, we get people to where they need to go, whether that is a chaplain, mental health or anyone who can help them,” he said. “We also do religious accommodation, we run religious programs, services, the white robe program and we do unit engagement.”
Unit engagement is one of the most important aspects of his job, he said. It is the most difficult part of the job. It is also his favorite. Unit engagement is when Morrone and his team go around and visit units to let them know that the chaplain corps is here to support them. They encourage units to reach out to them and sometimes they even put on events for the unit.
That was his favorite part of his recent deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
“Getting to talk to other airmen on the deployment was really an awesome part,” he said. “You were seeing units and having a positive effect on people. Maybe they had a bad day. You can ask how they’re doing and let them know that you are here for them.”
Morrone, who has only been in the military for a year and a half, credits his superiors for making him a better leader. It all began at home, where his parents instilled the value of hard work in him as a child, and that has carried over to his Air Force career.
“I prefer to do a lot of following. I like to watch the people around me who are leaders and see how they do things and how they operate because in order to be a leader, you have to be a follower,” Morrone said.
Tech. Sgt. Torri Reed, Morrone’s former supervisor, said that Morrone’s humility and groundedness is what has allowed him to do great things. Though he has been in the Air Force for only a short time, he has performed well above his experience, according to her.
“If you ask him to do anything, he's there,” she said. “He'll be the first one there and the last one to leave. And you can tell that he actually cares about what he does, and he wants to do well and he wants to help others.”
Morrone’s own spiritual life is what empowers him to go above and beyond in his career.
“I am involved in church. God's an important part of my life,” he said. “For this job, you don't need to be religious, but for me, my relationship with Christ is what keeps me going and gives me that self-improvement that I need.”
Morrone’s passion, demeanor and willingness to work has made him an indispensable member of his team.
“He’ll do great things and he won’t even tell you about them. And then you find out from somebody else,” Reed said. “So I brag on him pretty much any chance I can get. I’ll say, ‘That’s Morrone. He’s amazing.'”
“He is a rock star,” agreed Chaplain Capt. David Massey, Morrone’s Religious Support Team partner. “He is way bigger than even this award. The dude is the real deal and we're thankful for him.”