TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Troy woman has been named Airman of the Year by the New York Air National Guard. Staff Sargent Jessica Lee Cruz is assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia.

Cruz is an air transportation specialist in the wing’s 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron. The award recognizes airmen who show outstanding leadership abilities, job performance, and personal achievement during the competition year.

“It does feel good to be recognized. As a guardsman, you spend a lot of time away from your family and from your home-life, and to be recognized for those things feels great,” said Cruz.

As an air transportation specialist, Cruz is responsible for processing passengers and baggage aboard all Department of Defense and civilian-owned military aircraft. She has served in the New York Air National Guard since 2017.

During 2021, Cruz volunteered for a deployment to Ali Al Salem Airbase, Kuwait where she built pallets and checked in more than 27 tons of cargo. She also deployed to Greenland to provide support for the National Science Foundation.

She volunteered to be part of Operation Allies Welcome, a mission to provide services to Afghan’s evacuated by the United States. Cruz is currently serving on the New York National Guard’s COVID-19 response mission.

“Staff Sgt. Cruz is an asset to the Air Transportation career field, the Air National Guard, and the United States Air Force. She is a natural-born leader, and has a great career ahead of her. All of us within the squadron are extremely proud of her and her accomplishments,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Mann, her supervisor in the logistics readiness squadron.

As New York Air National Guard’s Airman of the Year, Cruz will compete against airmen from the other 53 states and territories to be the best in the entire Air National Guard.

In civilian life, Cruz is a Rensselaer County corrections officer. She lives in Troy with her daughter.