U.S. Air Force Tec. Sgt. Daylon Siverly, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, is the 2020 Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Award winner for the noncommissioned officer category. Siverly has been an Air Force maintainer for 15 years, recently achieving his goal of becoming a flying crew chief. (U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)
U.S. Air Force Tec. Sgt. Daylon Siverly, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, is the 2020 Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Award winner for the noncommissioned officer category. Siverly has been an Air Force maintainer for 15 years, recently achieving his goal of becoming a flying crew chief. (U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh) (Photo Credit: Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Maintainers fill a critical role in keeping the Air Force’s fleet in the air to project air power, dominance and rapid global mobility. These experts ensure the aircraft in their care are ready to fly at a moment’s notice so pilots can safely and effectively complete their mission.

Earlier this year, Tech. Sgt. Daylon Siverly, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of the jet shop and flying crew chief, was selected as the Air Force’s 2020 Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Award winner for the NCO category.

In the maintainer career field, the best of the best are honored for their skills and expertise with this award. On May 18, Siverly received the Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez award for the squadron level, and thought he was also going to be presented with the major command-level award.

“It was unreal,” Siverly said. “When I won at the MAJCOM level, the group commander came to present me my award. They kind of tricked me into thinking I was getting the MAJCOM one.”

The commander presented Siverly with a closed award cover and stepped back to watch him open it. Instead of presenting him with a certificate for winning at the MAJCOM level, the inside told him he had also won the Air Force level as well.

Siverly deployed to Afghanistan in 2019, and amidst heavy mortar fire, he held the roles of night crew chief, first sergeant and NCOIC of his section, taking on many roles and responsibilities during that time. Their shop was busier than most locations in the Middle East, and they ultimately received a team award for their efforts.

“We did a lot of weird maintenance there we don’t normally do, especially at the home station,” Siverly said. “I towed a plane missing a tire and helped the C-130 Super Hercules guys out a couple times because they didn’t have a crane driver.”

Upon returning from his deployment, Siverly then went to Antarctica for Operation Deep Freeze, the Department of Defense’s support of the U.S. Antarctic program and the National Science Foundation.

“This makes him the Air Force’s number one maintainer,” said Maj. Zachary Magnin, 62nd AMXS commander. “This is an incredible feat, one that deserves exceptional recognition - even more so in our COVID-induced environment.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Siverly can’t remember a mission that wasn’t affected by the virus.

“I was on the last flight out of Germany before they locked it down for two months,” he said. “Whether it’s being quarantined in dorms, constantly wearing a mask, or worrying about coming back and being exposed or giving it to anyone else, COVID has been there constantly.”

Despite the setbacks, hardships and unique problems the pandemic caused, Siverly continued to get the job done and keep jets in the air.

“It was a team effort,” Siverly said. “Be it the guys I was deployed with to Bagram to the FCCs flying through who taught me stuff as we were working on planes, I can’t think of one single thing I did that didn’t require other people’s help to make this award happen.”

Having tinkered with mechanics his whole life, Siverly joined the Air Force specifically to be a part of the maintenance career field. Throughout his fifteen years in the Air Force, he has always wanted to be an FCC, a position he received last year.

“Being a maintainer is awesome, especially when you fly and see exactly what you’re doing,” Siverly said. “My favorite part is the job satisfaction. Last month, I went on a trip that brought back two Black Hawks and the warrant officers who fly them from Afghanistan. Getting to see those guys come back home with their planes, that’s the most rewarding part -- getting to see us do the mission and seeing the planes fly.”

Lieutenant General Leo Marquez, for whom the award is named, is referred to as the “godfather” of maintenance. A pilot by trade, he worked during his 33-year career to improve training opportunities and working conditions for flightline maintenance Airmen.

When an Airman like Siverly goes above and beyond their duties, they are honored in the general’s name.

“Siverly is an incredible Airmen backed by an even more incredible team,” Magnin said. “If there is an award that epitomizes all that it is to be an aircraft maintainer, it is the Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award.”

Receiving an Air Force-level award is a great honor, and Siverly exemplifies what it means to be an Air Force maintainer.