NCO wins Air Force’s nuclear surety award

Airman Edward Drescher, Story and photo
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Information on nuclear warfare and nuclear safety can be very discreet; however, this doesn’t mean that someone isn’t there to make sure nuclear operations are safely carried out.

Tech. Sgt. George Vara Jr., 435th Air Base Wing weapons safety manager, recently received the Air Force Nuclear Surety Outstanding Achievement Award for doing just that. According to AFI 36-2833 the awards board selects an individual whose outstanding achievements or contributions enhance nuclear surety and reduce the likelihood of nuclear weapon or nuclear power system mishaps.

Sergeant Vara, who has been at Ramstein four years, played a major role in enhancing not only nuclear safety but all weapons safety in the KMC. He was a vital part of the “Excellent” rating the 435th ABW Weapons Safety Office earned during an inspector general inspection.

The weapons safety office oversees nuclear safety, explosive safety and missile safety.

“Anything involving those three must be righted through our office,” said Sergeant Vara. “We make sure the people understand the assets they’re working with and are qualified to work with them.”

He also made sure other organizations were properly running their security programs. He reviewed 128 operating instructions during seven unit inspections and conducted 93 nuclear surety inspections on 13 wing- and major command-level organizations.
Sergeant Vara also played a role in establishing the new 38th Combat Support Wing. As a new wing was being established so was a new safety office.

“We looked at assisting with on-the-job training and made sure their weapons safety manager was prepared for the job,” said Sergeant Vara. “The key to this position is to get out of the office as much as possible and make your presence known.”

Sergeant Vara also wanted to make things easier for the working force in order to maximize their potential. He published a user-friendly training guide that was lauded by Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and authored a quarterly newsletter called “Weapons Word.” The newsletter informed units of changes in surety and explosive safety.

“He is one of the most professional NCOs I know and it is displayed through his work,” said Senior Master Sgt. Richard Smith, 435th ABW chief of safety and Sergeant Vara’s supervisor.

He is scheduled to PCS to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 25 and said he is confident his replacement will have the guidance to become a great weapons safety manager.