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Holloman AFB Airman named Fighter Instructor Pilot of the Year

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexis P. Docherty
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force announced the recipients of the 2016 Air Force Fighter Annual Awards in May 2017.  
Maj. John R. Widmer, the 314th Fighter Squadron flight commander and an F-16 instructor pilot at Holloman Air Force Base, was named the Air Force’s Fighter Instructor Pilot of the Year. 

The award is designed to recognize fighter pilots and weapon systems officers’ commitment, performance, leadership and aviation skills that were instrumental to mission success of the Air Force and the Defense Department. 

The awards board reviewed major commands submissions for the top Air Force fighter pilots and WSOs and selected winners based solely on primary, flight-related duties. 

“I thought they had somehow put the wrong name on the [package] when it was sent up,” Widmer said. “I still feel completely humbled being awarded such an honor. It makes me think of all the other superb instructors throughout the Air Force. I wish I could give this award to them instead.”

Widmer believes his success is in part due to the support and dedication of his fighter group, stating the opportunities he received, as well as his squadron leadership, are what facilitated his win and have led to his success as a fighter instructor pilot. 

This first-rate leadership also helped Widmer combat obstacles surrounding his tasks throughout 2016. 

“Some of the projects that we were working on received push back from people throughout our community, but my fighter group leadership continued to push us in the right direction to press for continued improvements to our program and syllabus,” Widmer said. “Those changes, and the marked improvement in the fighter pilots we send to the combat air force, are the true reward for pushing through those challenges.”

Lt. Col. Michael D. Clapper, the 314th FS commander, recognized Widmer as an exceptional asset to the 314th FS and the greater Air Force. 

"Maj. Widmer is the complete package--everything I want in an officer, flight commander and fighter pilot,” Clapper said. “He has played a key role in how [we] build the future of airpower for the U.S. Air Force as an instructor pilot, and a fine example of how a flight commander should develop their Airmen. He is my "go to" instructor pilot for complex sorties or when I have students that need extra instruction and mentoring."