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“Service Before Self:” Luke Airman Honored by Tempe Chamber Military Affairs Committee

Master Sergeant Danielle Graziani, 944th Maintenance Squadron low observable section chief, was this year's Graydon William's Award winner.

Master Sergeant Danielle Graziani (second from right), 944th Maintenance Squadron low observable section chief, poses for a photo with (from left) Col. Bryan Cook, 944th Fighter Wing Commander, Harry Shappel and Alma Shappel, Tech Sgt. Graydon William's brother-in-law and sister, and Chief Master Sergeant Jeremy Malcom, 944 FW command chief, after receiving the Graydon Williams Award Feb. 14. The award is presented annually to an Air Reserve Technician or Active Guard Reserve member who personifies the character and traits of the late Tech. Sgt. Graydon Williams, a 944th Fighter Wing maintenance ART who died at a young age of cancer. The essence of the award is based on superior performers who do not seek recognition, perform clearly above expectations, and have not been adequately recognized for their overall contributions and impact on the wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lausanne Kinder)

Master Sergeant Danielle Graziani, 944th Maintenance Squadron low observable section chief, was this year's Graydon William's Award winner.

Master Sergeant Danielle Graziani, 944th Maintenance Squadron low observable section chief, prepares to open a panel on an F-35 for maintenance, Feb. 21. Graziani was this year's Graydon William's Award Winner. The essence of the award is based on superior performers who do not seek recognition, perform clearly above expectations, and have not been adequately recognized for their overall contributions and impact on the wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lausanne Kinder)

Master Sergeant Danielle Graziani, 944th Maintenance Squadron low observable section chief, was this year's Graydon William's Award winner.

Ed Logan, Tempe Military Affairs Committee chair, presents Master Sergeant Danielle Graziani, 944th Maintenance Squadron low observable section chief, with the Graydon Williams Award during a luncheon Feb. 14. . The award is presented annually to an Air Reserve Technician or Active Guard Reserve member who personifies the character and traits of the late Tech. Sgt. Graydon Williams, a 944th Fighter Wing maintenance ART who died at a young age of cancer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lausanne Kinder)

Master Sergeant Danielle Graziani, 944th Maintenance Squadron low observable section chief, was this year's Graydon William's Award winner.

Master Sergeant Danielle Graziani, 944th Maintenance Squadron low observable section chief, poses for a photo in front of an F-35, Feb. 21. Graziani was this year's Graydon William's Award winner. The award is presented annually to an Air Reserve Technician or Active Guard Reserve member who personifies the character and traits of the late Tech. Sgt. Graydon Williams, a 944th Fighter Wing maintenance ART who died at a young age of cancer.

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --

In an emotional ceremony honoring the legacy of a former member of the 944th Fighter Wing, Master Sgt. Danielle Graziani reflected on the recognition that she doesn’t normally seek after she was awarded the annual Graydon Williams Award.

“I feel honored and I’m humbled because I don’t look for that recognition,” Graziani said. “I just do what’s asked. I feel really blessed and surprised.”
The Graydon Williams Award is given annually to an Airman of the 944 FW and is presented by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee. The award was named after Tech. Sgt. Williams, who was an Air Reserve technician for the fighter wing and served in the Air Force for over 20 years.

Graziani, a low observable section chief, was noted for her quiet and dedicated commitment to service by Ed Logan, the Military Affairs Committee chairman and an Air Force veteran.

“[Master Sgt. Graziani] is highly respected and well-liked in her squadron. We feel honored to know her and honor her and raise visibility of the 944th reserve fighter wing which is expanding and she’s part of it,” Logan said.

Master Sgt. Graziani entered the Air Force wanting something that she could call her own accomplishment. Born and raised in Arizona to a music and arts-oriented family, she enlisted at 21 and entered Air Force basic training in Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio. From there, she was stationed in different posts in Pensacola, Fla., Langley, Va. and Delaware before returning to Arizona.

The fighter wing commander, Col. Brian Cook, described the role of the low observable technician and how Graziani plays a part leading the repair efforts on base.

Low observable aircraft refers to planes that the US military uses that have low-to-invisible radar signatures. A low observable aircraft structural technician installs and maintains the metals used to create the stealth feature of the aircraft, according to the US Air Force’s website.

“Any time one of them gets even scratched, it affects the radar visibility or radar cross-section,” Cook said. “There is a major process that they have to do to replace the low observable coating and [Graziani] is actually running the shop that takes care of that for the F-35s here on base. It’s very vital.”

Cook praised the master sergeant for her dedication and involvement with the fighter wing, both in her duties leading the low observable repair shop as well as her involvement away from work. Graziani is the one who does much of the planning and organizing for events with her team, and is mostly found behind the scenes.

“She’s always in the background, never at the forefront, which is amazing,” said Cook. “She’s that quiet warrior; that service-before-self person that’s always going above and beyond. To be able to recognize her in the spirit of Graydon Williams was a big moment for us.”

To add a personal connection to the ceremony, Graydon Williams’ sister Alma Shappell traveled from rural Geronimo, Okla. to see the award be presented for the fourth time. Shappell was very pleased that Graziani was the award recipient and expressed appreciation for William’s continued legacy.

“I think it’s awesome that they can remember him and give this award in his memory,” Shappell said. “I just feel that he’s looking down on us each year when they give this award and it’s really a privilege to be here.”

The Tempe Chamber Military Affairs Committee meets monthly to honor local service members and provide scholarships for local ROTC students. For more information regarding the committee, contact Natalie Cole, membership coordinator, at nataliecole@tempechamber.org.