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The extra effort of the 12th Man

An Airman with the 128th Air Refueling Wing displays the Force Support Squadron 12th Man award jersey in front of a KC-135R Stratotanker here on August 10, 2014. Service members with the 128 ARW FSS created the FSS 12th Man award to recognize those who are reaching above and beyond for their fellow airmen. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Morgan Lipinski/Released)

An Airman with the 128th Air Refueling Wing displays the Force Support Squadron 12th Man award jersey in front of a KC-135R Stratotanker here on August 10, 2014. Service members with the 128 ARW FSS created the FSS 12th Man award to recognize those who are reaching above and beyond for their fellow airmen. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Morgan Lipinski/Released)

MILWAUKEE -- The dishes are piled around the stainless steel, industrial sink. There is silverware that needs scrubbing, dishes that need washing, and dozens of dining room tables that need tending too. It was a long day for the dining facility's crew and it seems like it won't be ending any time soon.

Through heavy sighs and the aroma of sanitizing solution, the sound of the front door opening and squeaking boots approaching comes from the hall. Within seconds, an airman stands in the doorway with rubber gloves in hand.

"Need some help?" said the Airman.

Service members of the 128th Air Refueling Wing Force Support Squadron created the FSS 12th Man award to recognize those who are reaching above and beyond for their fellow airmen.

The newly-formed program was named the FSS 12th Man award because of the connotation the 12th Man has made in the sports realm. The term 12th Man refers to the fans in the stadium that, with cheers of motivation, drive the team to victory.

Just as the 12th Man can change the momentum of a game, so can the FSS 12th Man positively affect the energy around the work space.

"I expect my airmen to do their job," said Maj. Steven J. Botsford, commander of the 128 ARW FSS. "It's when an airman goes outside of their area of expertise to help a wingman that calls for recognition."

However, no extravagant heroic action is required to be given the FSS 12th Man award.

"The FSS 12th Man award focuses on acts that can often be overlooked," said Capt. Tina M. Semotan, the 128 ARW FSS operations officer. "It reminds our airmen that we do see the little selfless acts they are doing and commend them for it."

But the FSS 12th Man award is not an ordinary recognition award. This award incorporates important Air Force skills into the nomination process.

In order to place a nomination for a deserving member, FSS airmen must fill out a portion of an Enlisted Performance Report.

An EPR is the form commonly used by supervisors to evaluate airmen's performance at the end of each fiscal year, but in this case, a portion is filled out quarterly for the FSS 12th Man award.

An EPR is done in bullet point format and can be difficult to master, but the FSS 12th Man award nomination process allows practice, said Master Sgt. Nicole M. Synowicz, the 128 ARW recruiting office supervisor.

The FSS 12th Man award gives airmen the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the bullet point format so they can be prepared when asked to complete an EPR form in the future, said Semotan. It trains them in an effective way as well as brings back the team spirit in FSS.

An EPR form highlights topics such as involvement in primary and additional duties, an individual's decision making abilities, and teamwork and leadership skills. FSS members write who they believe best resembles these qualities and, from the feedback, judges determine the quarter's winner of the FSS 12th Man award.

Nevertheless, the FSS 12th Man award is not restricted to FSS service members. Any 128 ARW squadron's service member can be nominated for the FSS 12th Man award, said Semotan. It is a recognition program for FSS peers to express gratitude to those who have lent a helping hand in times of need.

"It is a twofold program. It helps us become better at what we need to know and also helps us recognize those that are going above and beyond every day," said Synowicz.

Several individuals who were involved in the making of the FSS 12th Man award have noted a noticeable improvement in airmen's EPR formatting as well as a boost in morale in the squadron and overall aura of positive energy.

"When a team is forced to come together it doesn't work and becomes fake," said Botsford. "The FSS 12th Man award has genuinely brought the flights of FSS together and helped us learn to appreciate each other. It has made us a better squadron, made us a closer family."