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144th Lt. Col. Named California ANG FGO

144FW FGO Winner

Lt. Col. Cesar Gonzalez, 144th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, and his wife, JoAnna, pause for a photo with Col. Jeremiah Cruz (left), 144th Fighter Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Lorene Kitzmiller, 144th FW Command Chief, during the annual Outstanding Airmen of the Year Banquet Nov. 2, 2019. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Charles Vaughn)

FRESNO AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. --

The California Military Department held its annual Service Member of the Year Banquet at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego January 18, 2020.

Airmen and Soldiers alike were recognized for their outstanding performance throughout the year. Even though the evening’s ceremony primarily focused on enlisted service members, the officers were also recognized for their outstanding contributions during one of the many training breakouts held prior to the banquet.

“I would like to extend my congratulations to all the Airmen who were chosen to represent the 144th Fighter Wing in their category,” said Col. Jeremiah Cruz, 144th FW commander. “It gives me great pleasure to recognize their accomplishments over the past year which has garnered them a distinguished place in this year’s Service Member of the Year ceremony.”

Each of the categories were represented by Airmen from each of California’s ANG units. Lt. Col. Cesar Gonzalez, 144th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, was named the California Air National Guard’s Field Grade Officer of the Year.

“Lt. Col. Gonzalez’s hard work and dedication to the mission, Airmen, squadron, and wing is a shining example of the kind of leadership we need,” said Cruz.

Gonzalez grew up in Sanger, Calif. After graduating from Sanger High School, he went through the ROTC program at California State University Fresno and then went to serve in the active duty Air Force at various locations around the world before coming home again 17 years later. Gonzalez joined the 144th in 2014 as the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.

“I'm very humbled and honored to be selected as the FGO of the Year for California,” said Gonzalez. “We have done a tremendous amount of work over the last year, and I see it as a great team win for Fresno.”

Gonzalez’s philosophy of leading by example, and making a difference is just one of the reasons he is the FGO of the Year.

“Our core values should guide our actions on and off duty. Strive to make a difference in shaping our future,” added Gonzalez. “I always challenge today's Airmen in performing a rank above what they are currently wearing.”

Gonzalez said that his high school NJROTC commander, Captain John L. Nicholson, USN (Retired), had a tremendous influence on his military career. Nicholson often referred to a quote by President Calvin Coolidge by the simple phrase “Press On.” Nicholson gave Gonzales a plaque with the quote upon his graduation from the Fresno State ROTC program. Those words and his mentor’s use of those words remain an inspiration to Gonzalez. The plaque reads:

Press On
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.