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NEWS | July 6, 2007

MTI named Air Force Instructor of the Year

By April Blumer 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office

"Absolute powerhouse" and "drill wizard" resonate on the award package of a local Airman who was recently named the 2007 Air Force Military Training Instructor of the Year.

In the past year, Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Pryga has posted an impressive list of achievements to his name. He's been NCO of the Quarter, Instructor of the Quarter, judged more than 20 units and 300 cadets in Junior ROTC drill meets, spent more than 200 hours serving his community, was selected from 88 other applicants as the 737th Training Support Squadron's Military Drill and Ceremonies NCO, and was named the 737th Training Group 2006 Master Military Training Instructor Blue Rope of the Year.

But for Sergeant Pryga, it's not about getting an award or accolades. It's about giving back to the corps.

"The MTI Corps has given me so much and I've learned so much from them," said the Wisconsin native. "They took time out of their schedule to help and mentor me. Now I want to find a way to give back to the rookie instructors."

At 32, Sergeant Pryga has spent almost 14 years serving his country, from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to Osan AB, South Korea, to Dyess AFB.

His most recent assignment back to Lackland was his chance to share his knowledge and discipline with young, malleable trainees. In four years, nearly 1,000 trainees have become warrior Airmen under his guidance.

While educating the trainees, Sergeant Pryga continued his own education. He recently completed two associates' degrees while balancing work, a wife and an 8-year-old son.

"My wife has been wonderful," the former air transportation specialist complimented. "With everything going on, Trudy took care of everything. I just had to get up and go to work."

According to Sergeant Pryga, programs like the Military Training Instructor of the Year offer some small validation to all the sacrifices the TI families make daily.

"It lets us know we are being recognized for all the effort we put in and that other people are acknowledging the good we're doing," Sergeant Pryga said.