WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Kay Hagan this week met with Master Sgt. Jason Payne to congratulate him for being recognized as one of 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year at the Annual Air Force Association Convention. Payne is currently stationed at Fort Bragg and was chosen for the award based on his service as a technical sergeant. The Outstanding Airmen of the Year award recognizes 12 outstanding enlisted personnel for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement, and personal achievements.

“I’m proud of Master Sergeant Payne for earning this award and representing North Carolina exceptionally well,” Hagan said.

“Master Sergeant Payne represents the best of our armed services, and his work ensures our safety and freedom every day. His wife, Natalie, like many military spouses, also makes many sacrifices for the sake of our country. I thank both of them for their continued service to our nation.”

Payne deployed as the sole combat controller with a 50-man, United States Navy Seal team where he directed close air support during 31, high-risk missions with zero losses. He conducted 19 combat operations that led to the killing or capturing of 44 enemy fighters, severely crushing local Taliban networks.

He also served for 120 days on a one-hour alert with a national crisis response force, where he postured for and executed global contingencies and he contributed to a plan to capture the Joint Task Force’s number-one priority target. This enabled a surprise assault and successful mission.

“It is very fitting that we are honoring Technical Sergeant Payne this week as the U.S. Air Force celebrates its 66th birthday,” added Hagan. “America’s Air Force is unparalleled in its achievement of air and space superiority, and I thank Master Sergeant Payne and each of his fellow Airmen for their service to our country.”