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NEWS | Jan. 18, 2022

Humble, Credible, Approachable: 2020 Risner Award Finalist

By Airman 1st Class Gage Rodriguez 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Humble, credible, approachable – these three qualities personify the United States Air Force Weapons School (USAFWS) recipients and nominees of its prestigious Robbie Risner Award.

The Risner Award is the USAFWS’s tribute to U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. James Robbie Risner, a fighter pilot, senior leader and a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Risner, who completely embodied those traits, continues to inspire Airmen going through USAFWS courses.

One of Joint Base Charleston’s very own C-17 Globemaster III pilots was a finalist for the award. U.S. Air Force Capt. Zachary “Drift” Barry, 15th Airlift Squadron weapons and tactics flight commander, showcased the capabilities of the C-17 and earned himself a spot as one of only five finalists. 

Barry’s wealth of experience and knowledge has made him a key part of Team Charleston and the airlift squadron. His most recent efforts were recognized during Operation Allies Refuge. Alongside his team, Barry took part in helping launch the Immediate Response Force from Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina to assist in the evacuation of 124,000 refugees and Americans from Kabul, Afghanistan. 

Barry credits the success of the mission and his own personal achievements to Team Charleston and all of the moving parts that aided in the evacuation.

“If I were to say I stood out, it would have been circumstantial,” said Barry. “I had a significant team around me making everything happen.” 

JB Charleston is the east coast’s premiere C-17 hub for U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command, ensuring that rapid global mobility is delivered anytime, anywhere. 

“Team Charleston’s mission is important because when it comes to the C-17, we are the first ones out the door,” added Barry. “More importantly, we have exceptional leadership that enables our crew force to succeed and fail forward.” 

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Moore,15th AS commander, recognizes the hardwork and dedication Barry has shown to the unit. 

“Drift is humbling to watch in action. I often find myself learning from him,” said Moore. “He is an engaging leader who has a talent for producing more leaders. We are honored to have him. He embodies the squadron motto of ‘leading the way.’” 

The lessons learned at the USAFWS allows Barry to apply his training and leadership directly to JB Charleston to create an even stronger, dynamic team, capable of smoothly executing missions. 

“When it comes to being a weapons officer, you create a family of extremely capable people, and you surround yourself with them, '' said Barry. “Being a finalist for the Risner Award, realistically was just me being part of a massive and very capable team.”