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CONR-1st AF (AFNORTH) Chaplain named Air National Guard Chaplain of the Year

Chaplain (Maj.) Rudy Olivo, Component Numbered Air Force Chaplain, Continental U.S. NORAD Region-1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern), is congratulated by Royal Canadian Air Force Capt. Charles MacDonald, on Olivo's selection as the 2018 Samuel Stone Award, Air National Guard Chaplain of the Year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mary McHale)

Chaplain (Maj.) Rudy Olivo, Component Numbered Air Force Chaplain, Continental U.S. NORAD Region-1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern), is congratulated by Royal Canadian Air Force Capt. Charles MacDonald, on Olivo's selection as the 2018 Samuel Stone Award, Air National Guard Chaplain of the Year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mary McHale)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Component Numbered Air Force Chaplain, Continental U.S. NORAD Region-1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) was named the 2018 Samuel Stone Award, Air National Guard Chaplain of the Year.

Chaplain (Maj.) Rudy Olivo said he was honored as the recipient.

“I have had the privilege of working with many ANG Chaplains from all across the country and seen first-hand how skilled, caring, and motivated they are,” he said. “To be named Chaplain of the year in this group is something that means more to me than my words can fully express -- and that’s saying something since I’m a preacher.”

As a C-NAF chaplain, he is responsible for advising and representing the CONR-1 AF (AFNFORTH) Commander about religious, spiritual, ethical and morale needs of the enterprise population.

“I have the best job in the Air Force,” Olivo said.
He said as a chaplain, he most enjoys the daily interaction with people in the organization.
“I am able to work with everyone from the most junior Airman to the most senior officer and meet them with the entire tool kit the Chaplain Corps brings to the table,” he said. “From one-on-one counseling regardless of the individual’s belief in a higher power -- or lack thereof -- to delivering resources so everyone can practice his/her faith, to teaching and praying with people of my own faith tradition, to advising leadership of all levels -- all these things are loves of mine. We say in the Air Force our people are our most valuable resource. When I share life with people in the ways I just mentioned, I get to help our most valuable resource experience a better life in uniform and beyond and that ultimately helps meet mission need.”

But of course no job is without its challenges so being a chaplain is no exception.

“Life is hard,” Olivo said. “We know first-hand not only with Hurricane Michael, but also with all the other life situations we are all presently engaging with. Because I so enjoy the success stories I want them all to be success stories, and be so quickly. That said, while I feel honored remaining present in moments of pain and hurt, sometimes being part of the process is challenging. But even when those challenges occur, I wouldn’t give up those moments for anything.”

He is also grateful to a number of people and organizations for this honor.

“I have to say thank you to so many people who have partnered with me as an ANG Chaplain,” he said. “First and foremost I give thanks to my God, my bride, and my kids. They daily make me who I am. I also have to say thank you to the men and women of the 601st Air Operations Center, Florida National Guard, First Air Force, and members of the Chaplain Corps across the Total Force. Last but not least I have to offer thanks my Bishop, The United Methodist Church, Lynn Haven United Methodist Church, and First United Methodist Panama City, all of whom loved me and have given me flexibility to serve as a guardsman and a pastor.”

The chaplain is a 1999 graduate of Indiana State University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. He went on there to earn a master of science in criminology before he went on to earn his master of divinity degree in 2008 at the Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky.

Commissioned as a Chaplain Candidate in 2004 in the Air Force Reserve, he transitioned to the Air National Guard in 2012. Prior to his current position, he was the Group Chaplain, 601st Air Operations Center.