FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Aviators from around the Army received awards from the Army Aviation Association of America during the annual AAAA Awards Presentation Feb. 1 at The Landing.

The ceremony ran in conjunction with the Aviation Senior Leaders Conference dinner. The awards were presented after a series of toasts to those serving in the armed forces and those who have served the nation, and a short meal.

Brig. Gen. Raymond P. Palumbo, U.S. Army Alaska and Fort Richardson commanding general and event guest speaker, said Army Aviation is the "pacing Branch of land operations."

"If you're a ground commander today, how much does operational risk go up if you don't have Aviation'" he asked the attendees. "We have come to depend on Aviation no matter what side of the house we're on."

Palumbo continued by complimenting the Aviation Branch on its commitment to continuing the education of its Soldiers.

"Army Aviation is absolutely getting it right," he said. "We never stop educating. Not only is our system working, it's recognized by our most senior leadership. That has to be good for our Army."

Palumbo closed by posing a challenge to the Aviation Branch and said he appreciates the leadership of Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general.

"We all know we have the best aircraft fleets on the planet, but our fleets are basically the same designs we had 30 years ago," he said. "As we talked about (during the Senior Leaders Conference), there's no better time to get started (on new designs). But we can't forget our most precious resource is our people. We have a challenging future, for sure, but it's a bright one."

Crutchfield thanked Palumbo for his remarks and presented him with a book on Medal of Honor recipients.

"I'm very thankful for having peers that I know are with me in leading this Branch," Crutchfield said. "I think (Palumbo's) remarks were right on the mark."

AAAA Air Traffic Control Awards

* Air Traffic Control Unit of the Year: F Company, 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment.
* Air Traffic Control Facility of the Year: Shank Tower, F Co., 2nd Bn., 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade.
* Air Traffic Control Maintenance Technician of the Year: Staff Sgt. Moises A. Morales, F. Co., 2nd Bn., 3rd CAB.
* Air Traffic Control Manager of the Year: Sgt. 1st Class Romairick E. Whiteing, F Co., 2nd Bn., 3rd CAB.
* Air Traffic Controller of the Year: Spc. Douglas Ludlow, 1st Bn., 58th Avn. Regt.

AAAA National Awards

* Trainer of the Year: CW4 Guy E. Davis, 1st Bn., 3rd CAB.
* Aviation Medicine Award: Capt. Troy W. Akers, 1st Bn., 3rd CAB.
* DUSTOFF Medic of the Year: Sgt. Michael G. Patangan, C Co., 5th Bn., 158th Avn. Regt.
* Air/Sea Rescue Award: CW3 Craig Root, 2nd Lt. Douglas Hill, Sgt. Zackery Blansett and Sgt. David Ruiz, C Co., 2nd Bn., 3rd CAB.